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13 November 2015

Improving a school and inspiring a community - A truly winning combination

In the ancient city of Nashik, India, new things have been happening at Maha Nagar Palika School No. 125, home to 400 students aged 7-15.! The Community Plumbing Challenge, held 2-5 November and supported by WorldSkills Foundation, brought together four teams of young professionals - from Australia, the Basque Country (Spain), India, and the United States of America - to design and build upgraded and renovated hand-washing and toilet facilities at the school, including providing safe wastewater disposal and developing activities focused on health and sanitation for the students. Two students were inspired and impressed enough to say, "We learnt today that if we don’t wash our hands, then all sorts of germs will infect our hands. This is what causes the spread of all sorts of bacteria!"

The competing (and contributing!) professionals represented skills excellence in plumbing, engineering, construction, and design. Their individual teams presented design briefs outlining their solutions to the various aspects of the challenge they were charged with developing and delivering. While each team had an important role to play, it took all teams pulling together to complete the considerable project undertaken on the tight project timeline. "We are not four separate teams… We are Team School 125," said Judith Torres, an engineer herself and team coach for Team USA. Solving real-life challenges through a multi-disciplinary team approach provided participants a creative and meaningful experience, at the same time it delivered a uniquely impactful result.

As work moved from the design phase to actual building, the teams were required to collaborate and communicate as well as compete to complete the job and determine the winning team. In results announced at the awards ceremony Thursday, 5 November, team USA was declared the first place winner of this year’s challenge. At the same time, challenge participants, students, project organizers, and community leaders realize that in this case the sense of “winning” is both shared among the teams and extended to the community through a sustainable solution to a school and community problem. As with all WorldSkills Foundation projects, the satisfaction and genuine goodwill that accompanies “giving back”, “making a difference” and improving our world with the power of skills is uppermost in the minds of participants. Not only does the solution provide 25 taps for accessing clean water for the students, compared with only four taps were available in the past, the overall experience was a great educational opportunity for the students to understand the impact of water and sanitation have on their health.

Check out the highlights of the challenge below and get to know the technical aspects of the problems and their cost-effective solutions delivered by the teams on YouTube.

The Community Plumbing Challenge, established by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), aims to contribute to improvements to public health in regions where communities are still threatened by a lack of basic sanitation and safe drinking water systems. IAPMO is a Global Partner of WorldSkills Foundation, and you can learn more about the Community Plumbing Challenge at . Find out about the world-changing work of the WorldSkills Foundation or how to turn your great idea into a WorldSkills Foundation project at