The Woolwich Observer

Putting a spotlight on a fundamenta­l resource

Waterloo Wellington Children’s Groundwate­r Festival has a new executive director who’s keen to educate kids about the resource

- Justine Fraser Observer Staff →


TON Children’s Groundwate­r Festival has been educating kids about where their drinking water comes from and the importance of keeping it safe for future generation­s. Having to go virtual again this year, the festival is hoping to reach more people around the country.

For the first time since it began, the festival has a new executive director, Beatriz Gomez. She brings a list of new ideas with her, spending more than 20 years in the non-profit sector.

“A very important part of my whole career, in my life as a profession­al, has been to educate people about the importance of our resources, and in water especially. I’m from Mexico, where there is an actual water crisis in some parts of the country. Even though it’s not that obvious here in Canada, I want to make sure that people are aware of not only how important water is, but how important conserving water is,” said Gomez.

“In most places in Canada, there’s water all around us. What I want to bring to the table is a idea that even though in this case groundwate­r is invisible, it is still a huge part and a huge component of our lives. We need it. I just want to make sure that people understand the importance of groundwate­r and that we can get the next generation to be advocates for our natural resources and waters specifical­ly.”

The 2022 Children’s Groundwate­r Festival will run May 16-19, with children getting to experience a variety of activities created to help them better understand where their drinking water comes from.

“I am excited for Beatriz to help our dedicated volunteers to continue educating the next generation. Since 1996, the festival has continued to grow. For most of our 25-plus years, we have welcomed thousands of students, parents and teachers in person to learn about water. With the challenges of COVID, the festival was cancelled in 2020, however, came back strong last year to become a successful virtual experience with 6,700 participan­ts,” said Pete Gray, the festival’s honorary chair, in a release.

Despite the lifting of pandemic restrictio­ns, there wasn’t time to shift back to an in-person event, said Gomez, as it takes months of planning ahead of time to arrange all the speakers and educationa­l activities.

“Unfortunat­ely, the decision had to be made a few months back. And because of the situation

where we were at, the board decided to do it again online from May 16 to May 19. There’s going to be one session every day. They’re all linked to the Ontario curriculum,” noted Gomez.

She noted its especially important for local children to learn about groundwate­r as this area is dependent on it.

“We invite different specialist­s, members of the industry, government, people that are involved in groundwate­r and we try to educate on different aspects: What is groundwate­r? Why is it such an important resource? How is it part of the water cycle? How people, plants and animals and everybody has an interdepen­dence with the water, the importance of watersheds, the soils and the minerals that are around the groundwate­r, as well,” Gomez explained.

Similar to last year, educators and teachers can register through the festival’s webstite where they will get an invitation to join a special presentati­on. The students will have opportunit­ies to ask questions while the presentati­on is happening virtually from the Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener.

In Gomez’s native Mexico, they are notably more aware of issues with their drinking water. She hopes to bring some of that awareness to her current position so Canadian children will be able to be better water stewards in the future.

“I think it’s easier to be more concerned about water when you’re in a place where you don’t see it everywhere. I think that’s one of the main difference­s. In Canada, there are rivers and streams and there’s lakes – water is very present, you can actually see it. In areas in Mexico, it’s almost like a desert area. It’s not that obvious, you don’t see the water, so we are taught since we are very little to really conserve water. There’s many places where you don’t have running water every day or you don’t have running water 24/7, so there are just certain times of the day where you get running water or tap water in your home. That makes you more water conscious, and increases your awareness on water conservati­on,” she said.

“I think here in Canada, we have a huge advantage because there is water, we have those water resources. With that comes a huge responsibi­lity because we are stewards of that water. That’s one of the main difference­s and that’s one of the things that I want to make sure that these kids that come to the festival understand – how valuable these resources are and what’s the responsibi­lity towards it.”

Since its inception in 1996, the Waterloo Wellington Children’s Groundwate­r Festival has helped to educated more than 100, 000 elementary students. More informatio­n about the upcoming festival can be found on their website,

 ?? Submitted ?? Kids attend a demonstrat­ion at a previous in-person Children’s Groundwate­r Festival.
Submitted Kids attend a demonstrat­ion at a previous in-person Children’s Groundwate­r Festival.
 ?? ?? Beatriz Gomez
Beatriz Gomez

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