What is the Barron Prize?
The Barron Prize is a national award that recognizes youth for their positive impact through humanitarian or environmental service work. Westlake was chosen because of her work with LucyClimbs, an initiative she started to help raise awareness and funds for the world’s water crisis.
“I am beyond honored (to) join this outstanding community as a 2022 recipient of this prestigious award,” said Westlake in a recent Instagram post. “Thank you @barron.prize for helping me continue my work to bring safe water to the millions of people worldwide living without access to this basic human need.”
Inspired By A Pen Pal
The Naperville native’s interest in the topic began years ago after a decade of correspondence with a pen pal named Faith, from Uganda. Faith shared that she had to walk two miles a day to fetch contaminated water. At the age of 13, Westlake decided she had to make a difference. Her research led her to the group WaterStep, a nonprofit that helps those in developing countries learn how to use safe water solutions, providing and installing sustainable chlorinators around the world. Westlake and her family were able to visit Faith in Uganda and help install a chlorinator in her village.
Uniting Two Passions
From there, Westlake’s interest grew, after seeing firsthand in Uganda the struggles of securing fresh water. She tied her passion for climbing into the cause, using it to help generate awareness, and begin fundraising efforts.
Her love for climbing came at a young age as well, starting when she was just seven years old. At the age of 12, she became the youngest female to climb the 48 highpoints in the continental U.S. The acclaim she received from her efforts in that field poised her perfectly to make a difference in this new passion.
She started working with WaterStep, organizing a shoe drive at her school to provide affordable footwear for people in developing countries, as well as raise funds for the nonprofit. She then expanded the drive to other schools, eventually setting up a teen board of students from ten local high schools to take over and continue the drives. They are held each March on World Water Day. Their efforts so far have netted $25,000 for the cause.
Making The World A Better Place
Westlake has since gone on to set new records in the climbing world. At the age of 17, she became the youngest female to climb all 50 U.S. state highpoints. And in May of this year, at the age of 18, she became the youngest female to summit Mount Everest. But amidst all the record-setting, she’s stayed focused on her mission to bring safe water to communities in need.
“I want to inspire a generation of young people to use their gifts and passions to make the world a better place,” said Lucy. “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”
She returned to Uganda earlier this year to have another visit with Faith, and install more chlorinator systems. She also maintains an Etsy shop, for which proceeds from all purchases are used to help combat the world’s water crisis.
Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.
Photo courtesy: Lucy Westlake
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