Local gym invites community to walk for water

XGT Fitness Visalia joins international organization to walk for clean, sanitized water for communities in need

TULARE COUNTY – Residents looking to assist communities in need can get a workout by joining a local fitness center on a walk to advocate for communities without access to clean water.

A local workout facility, XGT Fitness Visalia, is partnering with an environmental nonprofit organization, CLEAN International, to host a four mile walk to raise awareness for communities without access to clean water. The event will take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17 at Rocky Hill in Exeter, where water and a fruit will be provided to participants. 

“We have decided it’s time for us to give back to the community and show ways that we are trying to support others outside of just the studio,”  Felicia Wilcox, studio manager for XGT Fitness Visalia, said.

The goal of the event is to raise awareness for the growing issue of water scarcity in certain developing nations. According to Wilcox, people in these regions are required to walk four or more miles a day while carrying about 40 pounds of water due to water scarcity in their communities.

“Not only are they having to walk super far, but they’re putting their lives at risk just to get what the rest of us have as a basic human necessity,” Wilcox said.

According to Grace Silver, director of water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sustainability and engagement for CLEAN, some regions affected by this issue can be found in developing nations like India, Malaysia, Honduras, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania. Additionally, communities closer to home like Tulare County’s Tooleville has been without water for decades, forcing residents to depend on water delivered from the state.

Participants of the walk are encouraged to bring things like a weighted vest, light weights or any object to carry with them on the walk to understand the struggles of people in these regions, according to Silver. However, it is optional. She said the overall goal CLEAN would like to see from events like these is getting word out on water scarcity, so people can be more aware of their own water usage.

“We always want to help change people’s behavior and mentality around water,” Silver said. “We find that it makes a really big impact [on spreading awareness].”

According to Silver, who is also a coach at XGT Fitness San Luis Obispo, the fitness center in San Luis Obispo will also partake in a walk for water event on Sept. 18. She said leaders for both events will be given educational resources, like fast facts about water, so participants can still learn as they complete the walk.

“We work with a lot of different organizations and schools, things like that, so it’s really fun to partner with a gym,” Silver said. “We definitely appreciate the partnership.”

Although this is the first time CLEAN International has partnered with XGT Fitness for this event, it isn’t the first time CLEAN has hosted an event similar to this one. According to Silver, CLEAN’s largest event, which takes place in March, is their Worldwide Walk for Water. The event begins and ends on the first and last days of March and has participants walking approximately one million miles to protect and provide clean water all over the world. More information about the worldwide event can be found at the Worldwide Walk for Water website.

CLEAN International is an organization that assembles and observes innovative solutions for clean water and sanitation that are environmentally sustainable. Their goal is to create a world where everyone has access to sustainable clean water and sanitation. According to their website, they do this through ongoing education, partnerships and evaluation to save and improve lives. CLEAN works worldwide, through on-ground conservation and restoration initiatives, water and sanitation projects, walks for water, education forums and more. They educate and engage with people who are interested in helping those who need additional help.

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