California mom Kianna Lyons doesn’t take water for granted. But she’s not only concerned about the water shortages that have affected southern California where she lives. She has a heart for moms and children in sub-Saharan Africa who walk 6K (3.7 miles) daily to bring home dirty water, and she’s determined to do something about it.
Kianna has chosen to join the World Vision’s Global 6K for Water on May 6. Like last year, she’ll walk with her husband and three children — ages 2, 5, and 7 — and other members of Highland Avenue Community Church of the Nazarene in Rancho Cucamonga.
“Clean water — this is something everyone should have,” says Kianna. She’s certain of that. When she first heard about the 6K at her church, she was less certain about participating.
“I’m not a runner at all!” she says. Kianna and her husband wondered if they would be expected to run. And what would they do with the kids? They were quickly reassured that runners, walkers, and stroller pushers are all welcome.
The family’s race kit included a bib with a picture of a child who needed clean water for each “racer” to wear. Maya and Owen, now 5 and 7, immediate “got it.”
“I bet he plays basketball,” said Owen about the boy whose picture they pinned on his shirt. Maya was determined to finish the course for the little girl whose picture she wore.
Kianna has kept the bibs because the 6K was such a great memory, she says.
“We could say … this is their name; this is what they look like. These are the people we hope we made a difference for. It’s like they are walking with you.”
It’s important to Kianna that her children understand what God has given them and give back. Her family has not always been able to do all she would like for others. Now it has become a top priority to her and her husband to model generosity for their children.
Walking the talk
Eighty people were expected for Highland Avenue Church’s first 6K, but even more joined the walk. Son Owen was quick out of the chute and confident of finishing strong.
But after about 4K, “everything began to break down,” Kianna says. Owen was flagging; Maya and other youngsters needed piggyback rides.
Kianna realized then what a powerful experience and a “teaching moment” the 6K could be.
She reminded Owen that while the 6K was a once-a-year event for him, other children walked that far every day for water. That’s when he remembered: They carried water; he carried nothing but the bib on his shirt.
“That’s why we’re doing this,” Kianna assured him, “so the kids don’t have to.”
This year Owen knows exactly why he’ll be walking the 6K.
“We’re walking for people who don’t have water,” he says. “It’s to raise money to get clean water and water fountains for kids. And if we keep doing it every year, there will be lots of clean water!”
Walking to build community
In their first 6K, Highland Avenue Church’s participants ranged from “babies in strollers to kids on shoulders, kids riding scooters and bikes, all the way up to a man in his 90s,” says Pastor Gabriel (Gabe) Martin.
Pastor Martin’s five kids — ages 3 to 13 — took part. Like Kianna, he embraced the opportunity to broaden their understanding of their place in the world.
He told them: “Not only do we have blessings in our lives, but we are responsible to make sure that other kids are blessed as well.”
Walking the 6K together was a blessing and a transformative experience for his church family as well. Congregation members who had only seen each other in the pews found time to talk. They met parents and kids from the preschool attached to the church.
“I can’t think of any better opportunity to engage our entire congregation and community in something that has a global impact,” says Pastor Martin. “It reminds us of the mission that we’re called to as part of the body of Christ.”
Says Kianna, “It really felt like we came together as a community.”