Last week, students at Decorah Middle School rallied together to raise funds for a water well through their “Change 4 Change” campaign. We asked one of the teachers at school to share more about their experiences, and we are so inspired by these kids and their passion to make a positive impact. Read our guest blog below from Zachary Fromm, teacher at Decorah Middle School, then learn more about how to start your own Change4Change campaign, with our help.

After meeting Phil Blom in January of 2018 and seeing the images he and his daughter’s family brought back from Ethiopia, I knew there were connections to be made with the cross-curricular unit we did as an entire 7th grade at Decorah Middle School in Decorah, Iowa. Envisioning this growing into a fundraising effort with the lofty goal of $5,000 was not something I foresaw at the time and remain inspired by the passion Phil, his grandkids Dan and Annalise, and the role that the rest of Decorah Middle School has played in helping change lives. 

Decorah students during the Water Walk

Seventh grade students at Decorah Middle School have been studying water usage and conservation throughout their 7th-grade year in their science classroom. Recently, in their Language Arts class, students read a book called A Long Walk To Water. A true story based on the hardships and struggles of young African children (typically young girls) facing lack of water access, shortages, and droughts. They walk miles, twice a day over rough terrain to get brown, dirty water to support their families. 

The week of May 14th, and as a culmination to all of their water studies, students toured local businesses to see how they engaged with water with all activities being coined One Well.  From visiting the Decorah Wastewater Treatment facility, Upper Iowa Organics, a local car wash, and the Decorah Fish Hatchery, students were actively involved in learning how water is used throughout Winneshiek County.  

Students fetching the water at the local river

Realizing the weight of water

Seventh graders also bridged a gap with Phil Blom and Water to Thrive. A weeklong fundraiser was planned in conjunction with the One Well week. Additionally, over 175 people joined the 7th graders, teachers, parents, and a few local businesses to walk 3.7 miles or 6 km to mimic and experience the real world journey nearly 700 million people have to make every day to fulfill their water needs.

Tired students after the 6K (3.7 mile) Water Walk

An exhausted student leans on the rain barrels where the water was brought from the river for a school garden

Supporters and ambassadors of Water to Thrive, Ed and Rennie Scharlau, Dan and Nova Kolander, and Phil and Sue Blom, were able to join us for the walk and fundraiser. Additionally, they were able to present the big picture as to “Why” the need for organizations such as Water to Thrive exists and the impact they have. All the Water to Thrive representatives gave riveting accounts of their personal experiences while visiting Ethiopia and/or Tanzania to the student body to end the day.  

Decorah met and exceeded their goal of $5,000 and they look forward to collaborating with Water to Thrive in future years to dig more wells. 

If you would like more information on the “Change 4 Change” campaign that the 7th graders at Decorah Middle School have started, visit: