Bringing water to the needy

8th grader starts Water Conservation Project


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  • Jake Ryan of The Water Conservation Project with his sister Ella.




  • Jake Ryan at work last month raising money for The Water Conservation Project.




By Rose Sgarlato

— Jake Ryan is making a difference one drop at a time. The 8th grader at Sparta Middle School has parlayed a Language Arts assignment into a global cause: The Water Conservation Project.

Designed, created and named by Jake, The Water Conservation Project evolved from a class project from his teacher Ms. Sofen.

“The project was titled the 20Time Project. It was designed to have students find a need in the world and attempt to fix it. I immediately thought of water," Jake said. "I have always felt sorry for the many people around the world who do not have access to water.”

From there the wheels started turning and Jake figured out that collecting money from friends and family would be a good start. Through his father’s connection with the non-profit Empower Dreams, Jake started networking and worked his way up to a conversation with the CEO Paul Staudacher.

“We discussed with each other how I could help them, and we settled on me raising money to maintain a well in Kenya for children who either were orphans, who were abandoned by their parents, had to run away from them, or their parents were killed," Jake said. "After being shown pictures of them, I knew that I wanted to help them in any way that I could.”

Soon after Jake created a website www.waterconservationproject.com for people do donate online and it was linked to <URL destination="http://www.empowerdreams.org. ">www.empowerdreams.org.

</URL>The next steps involved reaching out to the community.

“I set up a jeans day with the entire Sparta school district and set up jars around my school for students to donate. After doing this, I branched out to my local church, Our Lady of the Lake, and gave out flyers to my CCD class there. After that, I asked around to my friends and family to see if they would donate and set up flyers at my Tae Kwon Do school for people to take and find out more information and how they could donate. “

Jake Ryan continues to create events to drive awareness and donations. So far he has raised about $1300 , and the 14-year-old’s work is not over.

“I will be doing everything that I can to continue raising money for my Water Conservation Project. This project has taught me many life lessons. It showed me that anyone can make a difference no matter who they are or what they are doing. It also showed me how to overcome obstacles and create my own event, website and how to publicize all of it.”

In between fundraising and school, Jake enjoys cross country, golf and has a second degree belt in tae kwan do.

As for his future, he is thinking big.

"I want to be an aerospace engineer when I grow up."




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