SILVER SPRING, Md. -- For Habibah Jackson, the path to a healthier life may look like a personal journey, with only her dog, Rocky, for company.
It’s anything but.
“They like to say, ‘Oh, you're a walking group.’ We’re so much more than a walking group,” she said. “We like to say we're a ‘walking movement.’”
Jackson helps lead neighborhood walks for GirlTrek, a nonprofit group of nearly 800,000 African American women taking one step at a time, together.
The pandemic changed it a bit. So, to unite all of the now-solo walkers across the country, GirlTrek’s Ebony Andrews said the group launched a podcast, called Black History Bootcamp, focusing on African American women’s history.
“Our focus is to help save the lives of Black women by inspiring them to take charge of their self-care, to own their joy, to claim what's their best lives,” Andrews said. “And one of the primary ways we do that is through encouraging community and encouraging walking.”
It’s a move that can make a difference. According to the CDC, Black women are at high risk for heart disease and stroke and three times more likely than white women to die in childbirth. Some studies have linked those health effects for African American women to chronic stress, due to experiencing racism.
GirlTrek seeks to counteract that.
“Walking helps with stress. Walking is also something that requires limited resources. It's putting one foot in front of the other and getting out the front door,” Andrews said. “We have a saying that we say within our office that, ‘When women walk, things change.’”
It’s something Jackson sees, too.
“If you look at the social change that's happening now, imagine if you weren't in shape enough to walk - how could you actively protest if you're not physically able to keep a stance?” Jackson said. “People are walking for eight hours. So, GirlTrek also helps you prepare for situations like that.”
Now, GirlTrek is setting it sights on a new goal: to get one million African American women walking with purpose.
To learn more about GirlTrek, click here.