“In Order to Start a Movement, You Have to Walk the Walk” by Kim Juhas

            Girl Trek co-founders Vanessa Garrison and Tanya Morgan-Dixon wanted to address the health crisis that African American women face due to diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  After a few failed attempts to start a movement, they stepped back from their efforts.  They used Harriet Tubman’s story as an inspiration to examine their own habits. 

            Harriet Tubman first had to walk herself to freedom in order to learn the best route to take in order to liberate others.  This took incredible courage and strength, and the founders realized that they could muster their own courage and strength in order to accomplish incredible health goals.  They felt that after they liberated themselves from their old habits, they could be examples to liberate those around them.  They both challenged themselves to tasks they previously thought too difficult to take on—a backpacking trip and running a half-marathon. 

            Through their individual processes, they learned what it takes to achieve their goals, as well as provided others with inspiration.  Their efforts resulted in the ripple effect that they hoped for.  They now run Girl Trek, a nonprofit aimed to support African American women and girls to walk in order to live healthy, more fulfilled lives.  Their mission is to have one million people join them by 2018, and they are well on their way.  Through grassroots organizing and social media campaigns, Girl Trek supports over 15,000 walkers and 300 volunteers.  They hope that through this effort, participants can heal their bodies, inspire their families, and reclaim their neighborhoods.  

            Joining this nationwide movement does not cost money, only commitment to walking 30 minutes per day for at least 5 days per week.  Once someone takes this challenge, it is hoped that she inspires others to walk with her. 

            This story reminds us that while we are taking on our individual ventures, hoping to improve  the world around us, it is important to look within.  In order to understand the barriers that others face in order to help themselves, we need  to address our own.  As Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

            For more information, visit www.girltrek.org