Updated: May 30, 2019
Black women have started a walking movement to battle the obesity epidemic. With the increasing levels of obesity in the country and life expectancy declining, Black women have entered into the field to save the day... or at they are trying to help. According to the American Heart Association, almost half of African-American Women have heart disease and another 40% have high blood pressure.
To combat this problem, enter Vanessa Garrison and T. Morgan Dixon. They do not want this problem to continue, so they created a non-profit called GirlTrek to boost health across the nation by walking. Dixon said of the movement, "It wasn't because we were walking enthusiasts or because we love to walk. When we started we were just trying to save our own lives." She spoke on not going down the same paths their mothers went down when it came to their health and that 80% of African-American women are over-weight. Girl Trek is here to combat this issue.
The business partners met in college and began walking together in 1996 and their website says they bonded over 2Pac and their radical acts of self-care. Over 175,000 women have partnered with GirlTrek, forming walking teams across the country. By 2020, their website states they want 1 million women walking towards a better health. 30 minutes of walking a day defends against strokes, dementia, diabetes, and reduces the risk of heart disease.
Garrison told CNN, "And I tell you it is OK for you to put yourself first today for this 30 minutes and then in fact when you do that your family becomes more powerful, your community becomes more powerful. It is important, Garrison said, for girls to see their mothers as healthy role models. That is actually how you shift the entire dynamic of a culture by creating the habits that get passed from one generation to another."
Through the movement, the walking women are making closer connections with neighbors, friends, church members, college students, and the actual surrounding neighborhood. While walking, the women are also able to see improvements needed in their communities, so they can be the mouthpiece when advocating for change as well.
Girl Trek gets their motivation from historical figures such as Harriet Tubman. New members receive Harriet's Handbook, which has 1,000 walks and a step-by-step guide to help women stay inspired.