“What would Harriet do?” When Vanessa Garrison and Morgan Dixon asked this question a few short years ago, they were searching for a way to change the many health challenges facing their families and communities. Today, these two friends, inspired by the legacy of Harriet Tubman, are living the answer as partners and co-founders of GirlTrek. More than an award-winning nonprofit, GirlTrek is a revolutionary, leave-no-sister-behind health movement of black women across the country who are committed to taking back their health AND their communities through walking.
“When I think of people power, I close my eyes and see images of women walking on the sidewalks of Montgomery in the bus boycotts. I see women crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma,” said Morgan. History has proven GirlTrek’s mantra to be true: When black women walk, things change.
Now over 170,000 women strong, GirlTrek is preparing for its biggest walk season kick off ever: #HARRIET Tubman Celebration Weekend, a four-day national tribute to the original walking revolutionary that ends on Harriet Tubman Day March 10.
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“On March 10, 2013, I joined hundreds of women on the National Mall in Washington, DC to commemorate Harriet Tubman Day on the 100th anniversary of her passing. I was moved by the words of the founders, Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison and energized by the presence of so many women and girls in “superhero blue” walking it out for the better health of their bodies, their families, and their communities,” says Wordna Warren, GirlTrek’s National Field Director.
“Women of all shapes, sizes, and ages walked together in solidarity for one hundred minutes. It was this powerful experience that prompted me to commit not only to my personal health but to this movement of women walking the same path.”
On the second day in her role as national field director, Wordna lost her aunt to colon cancer at the young age of 51. Colon cancer, obesity and diabetes have plagued generations of Wordna’s family and statistically she is not alone. According to the CDC, 80% of black women are overweight or obese. One in four black women over the age of 55 has diabetes, and black women have increased risk for high blood pressure and stroke – all preventable diseases.
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“Our goal is not simply to get women walking with us for Harriet Tubman Day, but to get women walking, active, and healthier every day. Each day, each minute, we want to see more and more black women getting and staying healthy,” Wordna says. The weekend celebration is a jumpstart to do just that, all while having fun.