by Trent Miles

The 28th Clean Water Celebration (CWC) is a two-day event held every spring at the Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, Illinois. Due to the pandemic, the program will be held virtually this year on April 26, 2021. Students will be able to discover how to change the world by conserving water—our most valuable resource. Illinois students, teachers, industry professionals, scientists, and environmentalists need to be working together to revolutionize the way to talk about water.

The CWC is a one-of-a-kind experience, “a phrase coined by a small group of stakeholders, now expanded nationwide” said by Karen Zuckerman, chairperson of the Sun Foundation’s Clean Water Celebration and the CWC Navigating Committee.

The aim is to instill in students the value of thinking globally while living locally. The CWC contributes to the discussion about the right to have access to clean water and raises awareness in the community and schools about the value of water conservation and environmental sustainability.

I felt it important to gain the perspective of someone who could tell me more about the CWC. Luckily, I had the chance to chat with Karen Zuckerman for a Q&A session.

Q: What is the celebration going to look like this year?

A: “Due to COVID-19, it was especially hard planning the CWC. This year, we worked with the sponsorship of Illinois American Water to develop lesson plans that engage in environmental sustainability. Interactive Studios has created a way that enables students to travel along the Peoria Riverfront to visit with and learn from Clean Water Champions: scientists, artists, conservationists, storytellers, and youth advocated through a YouTube channel.

Q: What are ways students can get involved?

A: “The event is catered towards artists, students, and teachers who have a passion for environmentalism. Essentially, during this event, you can create action planscentered around protecting water. Students can get involved at home or at school when teachers create lesson plans structured by CWC material. Leadership roles such as being a presenter or key-note speaker are available during the celebration. For example, we had East Peoria High School, Pekin High School, and Pontiac High School facilitate a presentation. Again, getting that hands on experience is essential.”

Q: What do you want your audience to get out of this experience?

A: “The Clean Water Celebration is a unique event that began as a collaborative effort between the Rivers Project and the Sun Foundation. We hope that students can think globally, act locally, and increase knowledge within community and schools about water conservation.”

Q: What is your favorite part about the CWC?

A: “My favorite part about the CWC is the networking component. The ability to see all ages gather together in one space and listen to each other. Being able to create and execute lesson plans centered around change within our environment… It’s very important that we get a fresh outlook on water conservation and making sure that we are talking about it.” For more information about the Clean Water Celebration, visit the Sun Foundation’s website.

About Trent Miles

Trent Miles is a senior at Richwoods High School and has been working for Big Picture Initiative since May 2020. He is academically competitive and a well-rounded student. Trent is the founder of his school’s Climate Action Club, Vice President of the Minority Academic Advancement Project, and a contributing Op-Ed writer for The Shield (school newspaper). Outside of school, he is heavily involved in Jack and Jill of America, where he currently serves as the Chapter Legislative Chair. Trent is also a writing intern for the New York-based platform LORYN, where he manages the featured artist page, interviews artists, finds talent, and more. He has earned several writing and Presidential Community Service awards. Trent contributed more than 1,000 hours of community service through various service projects, including a winter wear drive, collecting toiletries, and helping at the Neighborhood House in Peoria, Illinois.

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