Students at Matthew Maury Elementary school in Alexandria, VA spent their morning this past April 6th in the gymnasium carrying bottles and jugs of water through a parkour obstacle course as they participated in the iKnowObstacles: Water Crisis (IKO) program. Presented by Know Obstacles and with support from Global Water Challenge (GWC), IKO is an athletic initiative which uses parkour experiences designed around water to provide American students with an active insight into what life is like for those facing water access challenges around the world– while engaging them to get involved to help create solutions for these challenges.
Prior to stepping into the gym, the IKO program began with the screening of a short GWC produced video documentary highlighting the many water challenges which students and teachers face at schools across Africa and around the world. Through this documentary, students at Matthew Maury Elementary learned that children in their same grade around the world face immense obstacles every day at school due to a lack of water and sanitation access.
“Defined as the art of getting from point a to point b as efficiently as possible, parkour is a training method utilized by a fast-growing number of school educators, stunt people, ninja warrior athletes, and free runners around the world. To a true student of parkour, obstacles are really seen as opportunities– and that is what provides the foundation for the program,” said Francis Lyons, co-founder of Know Obstacles.
Using this parkour ethos, athlete instructors guided students through a variety of physical activities with water as a focal point, such as carrying a gallon across a balance beam or carefully jumping onto a platform without spilling a bottle. Linking the obstacle course to what the students learned from the documentary, instructors motivated students to overcome whatever lay in their path and engaged them to act, throughout their lives, to help solve global water issues. The IKO program was specifically developed by Francis Lyons of Know Obstacles in cooperation with Max Henry and Jesse Danger of The Movement Creative, using insights they gained during site visits to GWC supported water access projects in South Africa during the filming of the documentary.
As part of the IKO program and to compliment the day’s education and parkour activities, IKO is working with the school’s PTA and administration to start an H20 For Life service learning program to bring water solutions to a counterpart school in the developing world over the next school year. Through this combined approach of education, physical activity, and philanthropy the IKO program aims to foster a globally-minded generation of young people, intent on solving the world’s water challenges within their lifetime.
About Know Obstacles
Founded in 2011, Know Obstacles, aka “KO”, is an apparel brand that believes that training to overcome physical and mental obstacles enables everyone to achieve better health, peace, and happiness. Inspired by the athletes and ideals of parkour, KO is dedicated to spreading the message embodied in our slogan, Know Obstacles…Know Freedom.
About H20 for Life
H2O for Life educates, engages and inspires youth to learn, take action and become global citizens. They provide students with a unique and valuable learning experience through service-learning opportunities focused on the global water crisis. H2O for Life gives schools, youth groups, and faith-based organizations the opportunity to raise awareness about the water crisis while taking action to provide funds for water, sanitation and hygiene education for a partner school in a developing country.