MOVEMENT ON MONDAYS: Happy hour anyone? A co... - Stand Up 2 OA

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MOVEMENT ON MONDAYS: Happy hour anyone? A conversation with Onika Jervis from GirlTrek (with TED Talk link)

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GirlTrek is a major national health initiative aimed at getting black women and girls walking together, and was featured during our recent “Movement is Life” conference. They have nearly 250,000 followers on Facebook.

We caught up with Onika Jervis from GirlTrek after the conference to learn more about the initiative. Onika had given an inspiring talk at the conference, describing how walking together leads to change – both healthy change and social change. We were keen to hear more about the Girl Trek vision. In her talk, Onika discussed how you choose to deal with stress is crucial to health.

“Moving is important for our bodies, our hormones, our adrenaline, and that is what gives us that shine, that energy. But we have to ask why - why is it that we see health problems in our communities? We need to recognize that for people of color we have a certain kind of internal stress because racism is part of how society is structured, and that affects us every day.”

Onika describes how in communities of color the stress levels are high, income is lower than average, and opportunities to exercise and eat well are limited. And the history of emancipation for people of color means there has been an accumulated burden over many years, accumulated stress that weighs people down and gets in the way of a healthy lifestyle. Because of this, living healthily can be regarded as a revolutionary act.

“Structural racism does affect our ability to participate, and it leads to a lack of opportunities. Although some people can afford to go run off their stress socially with their peer group, the average person of color may not easily have that option. So we may not deal with the stress in our lives in a healthy way. GirlTrek aims to fix that. We need to unlearn the unhealthy ways of dealing with our stress.”

GirlTrek figured out a healthy way forward by organizing group walks within city communities. The walks are in public spaces, so GirlTrek reaches many other people with its infectious and positive message.

You can see the GirlTrek founders talk about the initiative here:

“We don’t talk exercise”, says Onika. “That is not the focus. For us, walking is the new Happy Hour! I’m much more likely to go walk with my group, or run for a cause that I believe in, because I have a team waiting for me, in fact I’m more likely to do that than use an expensive gym membership. We walk, we share our stress and we share our stories. That’s our Happy Hour.”

Reminding yourself that walking is the new Happy Hour is a great way to Start Moving. It tells us that we can deal with stress healthily, socially, and within our communities. GirlTrek is active in 50 cities and planning a big expansion this year. If you want to find a group near you try using Google to search for “GirlTrek” and your city. Or check out the Facebook link below:

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LJones942 profile image

Hi Everybody,

What a great idea! My husband and I make time to walk together at least 3-4 times a week. It is nice to have someone to walk and talk with.

Flowers17 profile image

What an inspiring post. Love it and love the words "Walking is the new Happy Hour" - so everyone, start moving and start living because Movement is Life!

rockies profile image

This is outstanding. i have learned a lot and this group is fabulous.

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