With the hashtag #BlackGirlHealing, GirlTrek is drawing much-needed attention to the root causes of health issues and social ills among Black women. This national nonprofit movement started fifteen years ago when two friends, Vanessa Garrison and T. Morgan Dixon, decided it was time to take the critical first steps in revolutionizing how communities of Black women become changemakers through the power of walking.
“We are always rewarded for self-sacrifice, but there is often no reward for self-care; through the power of GirlTrek a system of rewards is created,” Dixon tells EBONY.com.
GirlTrek launched nationally in 2012 with 10,000 Black women already on board with its mission. As of this month, that number has ballooned to over 60,000 women in 23 active chapters across the U.S; a significant rise from 25,000 in February of this year. At this rate, the organization is well on its way to meeting its goal of signing up 1 million Black women by 2018.
Every month, thousands of women take to the streets wearing their blue, yellow and orange GirlTrek t-shirts. To Garrison, these women are heroes.
“We are the superheroes for our community and reclaiming our neighborhoods,” she says. “We take pride in our bright beautiful colors and are reshaping the look of a healthy Black woman. When we are walking, people notice us in a crowd.”
This May, GirlTrek is asking Black women to put on their walking shoes and hit the streets to complete 52.4 miles in honor of Mother’s Day. The campaign celebrating healthy Black motherhood is called MAMAthon 2016.
In the three years since MAMAthon began, it has become the biggest national walk dedicated to Black mothers in America. During the month of May, participants change their Facebook profile pictures to their mother’s picture and set out to hit the road in her honor. While Black mothers are often disparaged in the media, MAMAthon has become a way for Black mothers and grandmothers to know they too matter too, while encouraging them to pay attention to their health.
“What is the best gift we can give our mothers?” asks Dixon. The answer is simple, “to live our healthiest and most fulfilled lives.”
The distance of an average marathon is 26.2, so GirlTrek doubled the mileage to highlight the significance of going the distance for our mothers and mother figures.
“Our MAMAthon is twice the distance because our mothers go twice as hard,” explains Dixon.
From May 1st to May 30th, each participant can clock between two to three miles per day to reach the goal. Upon completing the 52.4 miles, participants will be given a victory badge for their mothers to share on social media.
To keep participants motivated, GirlTrek asks women to take the the MAMAthon pledge.
“I PLEDGE: To go the distance for my mom or loved one in the month of May by walking 52.4 miles in her honor,” it reads. “I promise to celebrate her hard work and sacrifices by not letting anything — and I mean anything – keep me from my goal. When I complete my 52.4 miles and cross the finish line, it will be a victory for me and a victory for the woman I love!”
This Mother’s Day weekend, GirlTrek is sponsoring Mother/Daughter photo shoots on Saturday, May 7th in several cities across the U.S., including Chicago, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit and St. Louis. You can find more information about the shoot and the MAMAthon on the GirlTrek website.
GirlTrek is showing us that there is not only power in numbers, but also power in Black womanhood. By walking the streets of our neighborhoods they are reclaiming the streets that have long since felt unsafe.