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Let’s talk water with Little Bellas’ Elysar Naja and CamelBak

Little Bellas at Frick Park, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Did you know that drinking water is the only public utility that’s consumed? You can’t even think about that fact without water (that’s because our brains are made up of 75 percent of the stuff), which is why it’s crucial not only to drink water, but to drink safe water. Elysar Naja, the lead for the Little Bellas Pittsburgh Access Program, makes sure of that as the lab coordinator for the Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority.

“Anything coming out of the tap is regulated because there’s lots of testing done at the distribution center,” she explained. “There are laws that mandate monthly testing.”

Elysar got into water quality through a wastewater internship she did as an undergrad majoring in environmental biology. From there she went from the backend – so to speak – to the front end of water treatment when she relocated to Pittsburgh from California for grad school.

Despite past and present water crises plaguing major cities in the U.S., Elysar and others have dedicated themselves to delivering clean drinking water to the citizens they serve. In fact, she shares her knowledge about safe drinking water with Little Bellas in their drinking water challenge, when the girls form a circle and play a game where each person takes a sip but only after the person before her is finished.

The message is that hydration is serious business, especially when you’re out mountain biking. But as much as that stream may look cool and inviting to take a sip from, what the eyes don’t see can be dangerous.

“The water cycle occurs naturally on earth and water goes through plant matter and soil,” she explained. “Animals aren’t that sanitary either so water in a stream for example is an accumulation of everything it’s gone through.”

Elysar has the rapt attention of these Little Bellas, who come from the Environmental Charter School, which has an “out-the-door” learning approach rooted in real-world problems (like water safety and scarcity).

Once a week from September 13 to October 25, Elysar joined 12 Little Bellas and five mentors from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Frick Park in Pittsburgh to learn:

  • Balance
  • Teamwork
  • Speed
  • Bike control

Some of the girls had never ridden a bike before. Thanks to their school (which provided bikes and helmets) and a generous grant awarded to Little Bellas by the Vista Outdoor Foundation, 12 girls were able to participate in the first-ever Little Bellas Pittsburgh Access Program.

Longtime Little Bellas partner, CamelBak, which supplies Little Bellas with water bottles for each of its programs, is dedicated to reducing waste that can end up in our global water supply. CamelBak, which serves a vast range of outdoor activities, also knows a thing or two about what mountain bikers need:

Water is the world’s most vital resource, and access to clean water can make the difference between a community that’s thriving, or one that’s only surviving. We are thrilled to engage with leaders like Elysar, whose chosen career has a positive impact on all of us.

Thanks Elysar!

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