As Independence Day nears, so does the 3rd Annual Flint Water Festival. This event takes place from 5 PM-9 PM at Riverbank Park in Downtown Flint, Michigan. The Flint Water Festival was created by a nonprofit organization called RICH Kids, Inc., a non-profit group based in Flint that aims to create safe entertainment and education programs for the youth in the Flint area who have felt the detrimental social and health effects of the water crisis. The purpose of the The Flint Water Festival is to raise funds for water and resources to combat the negative health effects of the recent water crisis, as well as create a fun and enjoyable event to lift the spirits of the Flint community. The festival not only raises awareness to local communities about Flint’s lack of clean water, but lack of clean water globally. According to water.org, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people worldwide access clean water, 844 million or 1 in every 9 people, do not have access to clean and safe water.
According to CNN, “In 2011, the state of Michigan took over Flint's finances after an audit projected a $25 million deficit. In order to reduce the water fund shortfall, the city announced that a new pipeline would be built to deliver water from Lake Huron to Flint. In 2014, while it was under construction, the city turned to the Flint River as a water source. Soon after the switch, residents said the water started to look, smell and taste funny.” In fact, in August and September of 2014, multiple boiled water advisories were issued, as coliform bacterium, “a warning sign that E. coli or other disease-causing organisms may be contaminating the water” was found in Flint’s water. Then, “Tests in 2015 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Virginia Tech indicated dangerous levels of lead in the water at residents' homes.” As such, it has been 4 years since Flint, Michigan has had clean and safe running water. Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assisted Flint by providing water, lead test kits, and filters, the assistance ended in August 2016. Because of the loss of federal aid, the Flint Water Festival has been accepting donations to purchase water to give to Flint citizens for free.
In addition to giving out free water, the Flint Water Festival has live music, games and prizes, inflatables for children to play on, an interactive art collage that attendees can help create, and free giveaways such as lead reducing tumblers and first aid kits. The night will end with a firework finale over downtown Flint, Michigan.
As Flint continues to struggle for clean water, the Flint Water Festival gives the people of Flint an opportunity to relax and celebrate while bringing awareness to both their community’s and the world’s water crises.
If you are not from Michigan or are unable to make it to the Flint Water Festival, donations can be made on their website or by clicking the button to the right.
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