Master of social work students at the University of Utah, Alannah Clay, Jessie Welch-Stockton, and Mimi Landeros are the voices of those who don’t have one.
After finding out about the Navajo Tribe Reservation water crisis, they decided to help. In their Change Project, they partnered with the DigDeep organization to help the Navajo nation through this crisis. One-third of its population does not have access to running water, a huge disparity in a pandemic. The mission of this project was to bring clean water and indoor plumbing to homes on the Navajo Tribe Reservation. To achieve this, the trio powered through setbacks and came up with innovative solutions to help problem-solve, while creating promotional materials to fund raise, as well as connecting Dig Deep to community stakeholders.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to do it,” Welch- Stockton said. “It’s a unique opportunity to really make a difference, get to know someone and to advocate for them and their cause, to hear people, and to project their voices.”
Without any federal assistance provided to bringing clean water to the Navajo nation, those living on reservation land are on their own or dependent on nonprofit supports. This means that this project is ever so important, and the reservation relies on this support.
Dig Deep leaders are part of the tribe and helped to build community connections, as well as assisted in creating jobs for the community, and taught members how to implement water and plumbing.
In spring 2022, the team hopes to partner with the Utah Natural History Museum to establish a display of the plumbing equipment that DigDeep installs in homes on the reservation to bring residents fresh water. They hope that future social work students continue the project and that the project doesn’t die with them.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2022 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.