Penny’s mobile home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where she lives with her three children, the youngest just 5-years-old, is only a few hundred feet from the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System (OSRWSS) main service water line, which runs through the reservation.

As she told us, “it’s just over the hill by another trailer,” but for a family living without running water, that’s a significant distance.

But that was before she learned of Running Strong’s Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) program which has connected dozens of households just like Penny’s to the water line in the past few years.

“I need water for drinking, washing up, cleaning the house, washing clothes, etc.,” Penny told us.

After submitting applications for assistance with several agencies, Penny was about to give up hope and resign herself to the daily six-mile roundtrip drive to her parents’ house to fetch water for her family.

But that was before she learned about the Mni Wiconi program on social media, and turned to Running Strong for help.

And, in June, she got it.

“Having water is a big plus, and the day we got water my daughter was so excited,” Penny told Running Strong field program assistant Karen Lone Elk (Oglala Lakota) during a follow-up visit to her home.

Today, there are still hundreds of families – made up of thousands of children, parents and elders – living just as Penny and her family were without access to running water at their homes for everyday needs.

But at Running Strong for American Indian Youth® we are working to connect as many homes to the water line as feasible each year, and we fully intend to continue this work to meet the needs of the Native communities we serve.

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