Can kids save lives? A public Montessori classroom at Seattle’s Daniel Bagley Elementary School don’t just think so – they’re making it happen, right now. To reward their inspirational dedication and concern for other children, an international humanitarian activist will shake hands and offer hugs at the school in early June.

In December 2015, Seattle Public Schools Montessori teacher Elizabeth Hoyer read “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park to her class of fourth and fifth graders. Newbery Award-winner Park wrote the book in 2010, inspired by the life story of Salva Dut, a former “Lost Boy of Sudan,” who resettled in Rochester, New York as a refugee, attended college and founded Water for South Sudan (WFSS).

“Salva’s story changed my life,” said one fourthgrade student. “No matter who you are or where you are, you can make a difference,” said another fifth-grade student.

Moved by the description of Sudanese children struggling – and sometimes dying — to access clean drinking water, the elementary-aged crew of public school Montessori students decided to get involved. The classroom raised more than $6000 to build wells in Sudan, in just four months. They composed hand-written donation request letters, ran lemonade stands and bake sales, and drummed up community support.

As a result, the children won WFSS’s Iron Giraffe Award – and won big. The grand prize is a June visit from international humanitarian and WFSS founder Salva Dut.

On June 8, Dut will be meeting with all the students at Daniel Bagley to talk about his work. Dut will describe his life as a “lost boy,” and share how perseverance saved his life and helped him achieve his dreams as an adult. Selected news media are welcome to attend the event. There will be a live interactive broadcast of his discussion with the 4th and 5th graders from 12:00-12:45pm.

The kids are working on writing a book for Dut, and eagerly preparing for his arrival. Upon request, children and parents can speak to media regarding their involvement and concern, and at having a humanitarian superstar visit their classroom and Seattle’s generous population.

On June 8, from 5-7 p.m, greater Seattle is invited to meet Dut at an informal potluck on the Daniel Bagley Elementary School grounds (7821 Stone Way, Seattle, 98103). Salva will say a few words at 6pm, followed by a book signing.

On June 9, Dut will be available to visit with leaders from local community organizations to educate and fundraise for new wells and drilling equipment as part of their Iron Giraffe capital campaign.

For additional information about Salva Dut’s visit to Daniel Bagley Elementary School, to arrange interviews with parents or teachers, or for access to the real-time internet link and recorded video, please contact Elizabeth Hoyer (emhoyer@seattleschools.org). Daniel Bagley P5’s fundraising page: https://www.crowdrise.com/p5wantstobuildawell

For more information about Water for South Sudan or to arrange a meeting with your organization in Seattle on June 9, please contact Lynn Malooly, Executive Director of Water for South Sudan (lynn.malooly@waterforsouthsudan.org). http://www.waterforsouthsudan.org.