This article was originally published at Sun-Sentinel.com (photo by Todd Roller)
Kareisha Davis recently laced up her sneakers and joined a throng of women walking laps at Joseph C. Carter Park in Fort Lauderdale.
This was no ordinary power walk, however.
This was GirlTrek, a national movement rallying black women to live healthier lives through daily walking. From moms pushing babies in strollers to giggling teens and seniors using canes, nearly 200 females met on the park’s track to walk one mile and to cheer each other on.
“I lead two walking groups, and I’m always out in the community talking about healthy living,” said Davis, 37, who spearheads a wellness program for the Urban League of Broward County, guides a group of walkers at New Mount Olive Baptist Church and is training to be a volunteer GirlTrek leader. “Taking care of yourself gives you the balance you need. We’re not only walking, but we’re talking and sharing. We empower each other to keep going.”
More than 35,400 across the country have taken the GirlTrek pledge to re-establish the tradition of walking in their neighborhoods. Their goal: To reach one million by 2018.
GirlTrek kicked off in South Florida by partnering with the Broward Regional Health Planning Council’s TOUCH Initiative, a collaboration of more than 25 community organizations working to improve the health of Broward residents.
Studies indicate that more than half of African American women are obese. The partnership is aimed at reducing such obesity-related conditions as diabetes and heart disease.
“We’re fortunate to be working with Broward’s health council, and we’re here to find the handful of women who can lead the charge here,” said Washington, D.C.-based GirlTrek co-founder Vanessa Garrison, 37. “… This is about women doing something for themselves and doing it together.”
Tamarac resident Kiesha Edge said she lost 20 pounds walking on her lunch break and plans to be a local GirlTrek leader.
“It’s good to walk with somebody,” she said. “Being a leader encourages me to continue, as well as helps others.”
A dozen Nova Southeastern University nursing students walked together with Professor Mary Ellen Mitchell-Rosen, while 78-year-old Luvonia McCray used her walker to complete the walk.
“GirlTrek is empowering black women all across Broward to create new ideas about what it means to be healthy,” said TOUCH Director Teina Phillips.
Emilia M. Solano, director of health innovations for the YMCA of South Florida, agreed.
“I want to see women become empowered inter-generationally — grandmothers, mothers, aunts, children,” said Solano, who spread the GirlTrek word to YMCA members. “Addressing the whole family makes a stronger impact.”
For more information, visit Girltrek.org.
Check out and share the Facebook photo album of the #GirlTrek Kickoff Rally in Fort Lauderdale:
On Thursday, July 16th, 2015 over 120 Black women from #Broward communities attended the GirlTrek Kickoff Rally for…