Water for Life Day
The Water for Life Day at Vancouver College started in 2008 by Thomas Lattimer and the Students Council. Thomas was reading a 2007 edition of a children’s magazine called OWL when he discovered Ryan Hreljac’s story. Ryan, as a 6-year old boy, was inspired to take action as a grade one student when he learned of the devastating consequences for people without access to safe drinking water. Ryan started Ryan’s Well Foundation, a Canadian charitable organization providing effective and sustainable solutions to the water crisis in the poorest regions of the worlds’ developing countries.
Thomas Lattimer ran the first Water for Life Day at Vancouver College in 2008. After his graduation, Thomas’ brothers – Sullivan, Maxwell, Aaron and Samuel – each ran the annual event during their senior years at VC until Sam’s graduation in 2016. The legacy will live on with other students from Students Council and the VC Rowing Program.
The day was renamed the Brother Newman Water for Life Day in memory of Brother Newman who passed away in 2009. Br. Newman’s legacy continues to exist across the Vancouver College campus, in his shared ministry with his fellow Brothers, the Encounter Retreat program, a vibrant Campus Ministry, and vibrant call to leadership for all young men at VC.
The Brother Newman Water for Life Day was created to help highlight that so many areas of the world do not have clean water. This day has a direct connection to one of the Essential Elements of an Edmund Rice Christian Brothers Education – Stand in Solidarity with Those Marginalized by Poverty and Injustice. The Brother Newman Water for Life Day has continued each year since it began in 2008.
The Brother Newman Water for Life Day promotes clean water in developing nations. On this day students are encouraged to bring a donation of $2 to dress down in blue for the colour of water. The money raised is donated to Ryan’s Well Foundation. In 2015, over 900 water and sanitation projects benefiting over 820,000 people have been completed; the 1000th well was dug in 2016 in northern Uganda. The students of Vancouver College have and can continue to follow in Ryan’s footsteps!
In addition to the dress down for the day, there are other events such as the always-exciting dunk tank in the courtyard during the lunch breaks and the sale of pop and freezes. Each year the students of Vancouver College raise over $1,000 from donations directly from the student community. To date over $11,000 has been donated to Ryan’s Well Foundation from The Brother Newman Water for Life Day at Vancouver College.