Heather Watson supports WaterAid and the Wimbledon Foundation to help children’s dreams come true
Tennis star Heather Watson has teamed up with WaterAid and the Wimbledon Foundation to help two girls from London fulfil their dream of playing tennis at Wimbledon, whilst highlighting the importance of clean water in unlocking the futures of children from around the world.
Ysehult, 14, and Annabel, seven, are members of the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative (WJTI), a local community coaching programme set up to encourage children to play tennis. The girls were winners of a Wimbledon Foundation competition, in which they shared their dreams of becoming professional tennis players.
The girls have missed playing tennis during lockdown and were thrilled to get the chance to play on one of the exclusive Championships courts at the heart of Wimbledon.
Their dream of playing tennis at Wimbledon was encapsulated in a bespoke glass droplet, created as part of a wider project where WaterAid and the Wimbledon Foundation asked children around the world to share their dreams for the future, and in a post-pandemic world.
Gathered from children in countries where WaterAid works - including Pakistan, Colombia, Malawi and Ethiopia - the ‘Droplets of Dreams’ have brought six children’s dreams to life in charming dioramas encased in glass droplets which were photographed around London as a poignant reminder that all children, wherever they have been born, should have the chance to fulfil their dreams.
One in ten children don’t have clean water close to home, meaning millions spend hours each day walking to collect it, leaving little time for their education. Up to 443 million school days are lost every year because of water-related illnesses and 800 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. With clean water, children can stay healthy and in school, helping them to reach their potential.
Heather Watson, who won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with Henri Kontinen in 2016, is supporting the campaign. She said:
“It’s really touching to see this collection of dreams of children from around the world. Everyone should be able to have big dreams for their future and the chance to make them happen. I had ambitions to become a professional tennis player for as long as I can remember and feel so fortunate to have had the support and resources to help me fulfil my dreams. But for millions of children around the world, a lack of clean water holds them back from reaching their potential. Hours spent collecting water each day means children often miss school, while drinking dirty water can make them sick.
“I’m proud to be supporting WaterAid and the Wimbledon Foundation in their mission to highlight the importance of clean water in building a better future. With clean water close to home, children can live healthy lives, go to school and realise their dreams.”
Amongst the other dreams represented in the droplets is that of Tsehaynesh, 15, from Derekwa in Ethiopia, who wants to be a midwife when she grows up. Before WaterAid installed three water points in her community, she used to spend around two hours a day collecting water from a spring along a muddy path. She missed school and it affected her studies. Now she thinks her dream might come true.
“The clean water taps in the village help me be on time and the good hygiene in the village keeps us healthy. Together, the clean water and hygiene will help me fulfil my dreams of completing school and becoming a midwife.”
Camilo, 12, from Colombia meanwhile, wants to be an environmentalist; Fatima, 13, from Pakistan imagines opening her own beauty parlour and nine-year-old Steven from Malawi, dreams of being a journalist and flying around the world investigating stories.
Ysehult, who would love to make it as a tennis player but has a back-up plan to train as a civil engineer, also has dreams for the wider world following the hardship of the past year.
“After the pandemic, I would like the world to be more aware of looking after our planet and helping all those people who are struggling and need our help.”
The partnership between WaterAid and the Wimbledon Foundation is helping to bring clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to health centres, schools and communities in Ethiopia, Malawi, Madagascar and Myanmar, helping people build brighter futures.
Bruce Weatherill, Chairman of the Wimbledon Foundation, said:
“Childhood is supposed to be a time to learn, play and dream about the future. But many children around the world are being held back from fulfilling their dreams by a lack of clean water.
“Through our ongoing partnership with WaterAid, the Wimbledon Foundation is championing clean water for healthy lives; freeing women and children from the burden of collecting water; and giving them an equal chance of being healthy, educated and able to reach their true potential. The Wimbledon Foundation is also providing crucial funding for water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare centres in Ethiopia, Malawi, Myanmar and Madagascar.”
Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid, said:
“In a year where communities have been brought to a standstill by the global pandemic, the role of clean water has never been more important. Clean water, handwashing and good hygiene are key to combatting the spread of Covid-19 - as well as other infectious diseases – and is vital to these children and their communities in leading healthy lives.
“With clean water close to home, children don’t need to spend hours collecting it and missing out on school; but instead have a chance to reach their potential and fulfil their dreams.”
For further information: www.wateraid.org/uk/wimbledon
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Notes to Editors:
The Wimbledon Foundation
The Wimbledon Foundation, established in 2013, is the charity of the All England Lawn Tennis Club and The Championships. Our mission is to help change people's lives using the resources and heritage of Wimbledon. The Wimbledon Foundation's goals are to strengthen our local community, support healthy and active lives, develop young people and help those in need. For more information, visit www.wimbledon.com/foundation, follow @WimbledonFDN on Twitter and Instagram, or find Wimbledon on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wimbledon.
WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.
- 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.
- 2 billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.
- Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's around 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.
- Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.
- Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.