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How Virginia power walking group promotes better health: 'It’s a sisterhood'

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Posted at 6:01 PM, Aug 11, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- Some Richmond women are reclaiming their health one step at a time to fight a problem plaguing the African American community.

Hundreds of women come together each week to become part of the solution by lacing up their sneakers and walking for their lives.

A 5:30 a.m. stroll doesn't phase Sharon Jennings one bit. It is just part of her routine and she's usually flanked by several committed walking partners.

Sharon Jennings and Wilma Battle
Sharon Jennings and Wilma Battle

Her Girl Trek sisters who power walk to promote better health, healing and a movement for health justice.

Jennings, who has been leading the Girl Trek group in RVA for 8 years, believes what they're doing is saving lives.

“Walking for weight control and weight loss, but I also walked during my chemo and I thought, ‘Man I may not be able to do 6 miles, but I was able to do 3 and 4 miles,’” Jennings said. “It kept me from being tired and letting chemo take me over.”

Sharon Jennings
Sharon Jennings

Jennings said Girl Trek is a global movement of African American women who are prioritizing self care, which has prompted more than one million of them to pledge to walk 30 minutes a day.

According to the group, 81% of Black women are overweight, 52% are obese and 20% are less likely to engage in physical activity.

Jennings and fellow walkers said groups of Girl Trek women in RVA who assemble and walk daily encourage and uplift each other.

"It’s a sisterhood, yes, it is," Wilma Battle said. "About two weeks ago, I walked 6 miles. And the ladies all celebrated with me and I celebrated, too. Because I am a two-time knee replacement person. So I’m all excited and glad — and they love me for that, and I love them for that, too."

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Girl Trekkers mix it up by walking all over the community: from parks and walking trails to day trips across the Commonwealth like an excursion in Yorktown Beach walking at sunrise.

And soon they will tackle a mountain in Colorado for the upcoming Girl Trek Stress Protest retreat.

“We are promoting health and lots of ladies have gone on to be weightlifters,” Jennings said. “They are working out in gyms, they are hiking and we are doing things we have never done in our lives before.”

Jennings said they are now just one walker away from hitting the 1000 mark in the RVA Girl Trek group.

Click herefor more information on the health movement.