by Kirsten Brackett
I completed my very first walk carrying about thirty pounds of water in my jerry can at Washington Park in Denver! I ended up walking 1.5 miles.
Before doing this walk, people had asked me if I had tested or tried carrying the jerry can and every time I said no. This was because I did not want to train for it because I wanted the full experience of what it would be like for me to walk for water never having done it in my life. The only previous training I had was I started weight lifting this summer.
My walking entourage included me carrying the water, my dad keeping track of the distance and helping me put the water on my head or shoulder, my friend Katie taking pictures and videos to capture the moment and my mom who had flyers to hand out to the public. When we first arrived at Washington Park, the jerry can was full, which was five gallons equivalents to 40 pounds. My dad helped me place the jerry can on my head and when I tried to take a step my arms started shaking and I felt like I was going to fall to the ground. I was frustrated because I knew it was too heavy for me to carry and I hadn’t considered how the water sloshing in the jerry would affect my balance.
We took the jerry can off of my head and drained out a portion of the water until it weighed about 30 pounds. I started my walk and immediately learned four things:
It really hurt my arms more than my back, which was a surprise.
Walking faster made it a whole lot easier to keep my balance and minimized the water sloshing around in the can.
I had to take breaks every .1-.2 of a mile.
The level of concentration I had to use to walk was much higher than I expected.
As I continued to walk, my arms began to fatigue but I could feel the rest of the muscles in my body working to keep walking. I was very frustrated with the frequency of breaks that I had to take. By the time I needed to take a break I would be breathing heavily and my muscles would be extremely sore. I originally thought that I would be able to walk and talk to people, but I had to concentrate hard on pushing myself to walk with the water. I had to keep in mind that the women who do walk with water everyday have been doing it their whole lives and that this was my first time. As I thought of the women walking for water, I gained more motivation. Rather than taking breaks every .1 of a mile I made it my goal to walk further. I was motivated by thinking about the fact that I go to a gym and on a machine to exercise, while women everyday around the world have to strain their muscles, backs and necks just to receive a necessity of life.
I tried to picture my life having to get water everyday and missing out on my education. Then I would picture the fact that I can just go to a faucet and receive water whenever I want. And how my “first world” problems really aren’t problems at all. I used the frustration that I had thinking about the uneven distribution of water in our world. I thought about how we waste water by watering our already green lawns or taking a two- hour shower just because we had a “rough” day. I thought about how even places that suffer from water scarcity physically, such as the United Arab Emirates, still use so much water everyday for, in my opinion, unnecessary reasons.
Another interesting part about my walk, was that no one questioned what I was doing. People definitely stared, but no one cared to ask what I was doing. Only one person did. Of course it could have just looked like I was doing an intense work out and people were embarrassed to ask, which I understand. I did wear my Water for Panama t-shirt that said “Ask Me About Clean Water” but no one did. This was disappointing because I was hoping to spread more awareness about the issue. To solve this problem I will bring signs and my lovely friend Katie is painting my jerry can. The objective of this first walk was for the personal experience of walking with water so I can now talk the talk about the issue because I have personally given it a shot. Of course, not to the extent that people around the world have, but I can now better talk about what it must be like to carry water every day and why everyone should have access to clean water. The objective of my second walk will be to spread the word about the issue.
I am so glad that I am receiving this opportunity and support to share what I am passionate about and be able to walk the walk to talk the talk. Thanks to everyone who read this and please see my fundraising page for to give more support. Together we can save the world, one glass of water at a time!