LifestyleStacy M. Brown

Celebrating 10 Years of Black Women Walking to Heal, GirlTrek Grows to 1.2 Million Members

It started in Los Angeles with two friends – Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison – who bonded because of their love of icons like 2Pac, Nikki Giovanni and Angela Davis.

Ten years later, GirlTrek boasts approximately 1.2 million strong Black women.

“We have been really busy over the past decade,” proclaimed Jaida Vaught, the D.C.-based chief of marketing and strategic partnerships for GirlTrek.

“We practice radical self-care through the daily act of walking, and now we are 1.2 million Black women strong,” said Vaught, who formerly served as direct marketing director at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Vaught noted how excited GirlTrek members are after reaching such an amazing milestone.

She said women walking 30 minutes each day for five days a week helps to save Black lives.

“We are really excited – incredibly excited – knowing there is power in numbers not only for the women part of the movement but with the data we collected, we know that our members aren’t taken as much medication, they are losing weight and improving their overall mental, emotional, and physical wellness,” Vaught stated.

The nonprofit GirlTrek is dedicated to the health and healing of Black women and girls.

Vaught pointed to medical data showing that Black women experience higher rates of diseases such as hypertension and diabetes and suffer from systemic racism.

She noted that walking helps tremendously and GirlTrek walks also provide opportunities to find out about community needs and a chance to discuss history.

“As we are walking, one of the things that I love is that it’s a moment to take in your surroundings,” Vaught remarked. “When Black women walk, things change. We are taking notice of things like how much green space there is and where grocery stores are.”

In 2020, GirlTrek also reactivated its Black Girl Justice League, which rallies the political power of Black women to exercise their rights to vote.

The league advances an agenda to combat injustices that suppress and kill Black women, families, and communities – including economic, health and criminal issues.

On election day, Vaught said GirlTrek members were present in all the battleground states, where they set up care stations and handed out water, snacks and other necessities to assist the long lines at the polls.

She scoffed at the new voter suppression laws recently instituted in places like Georgia, where Republicans have now made it illegal to hand out water or snacks to those waiting to cast ballots.

“We are aware of voter suppression efforts around the country,” Vaught said. “They’ve tried to stop us, but they cannot.”

Last year, GirlTrek also started a Black History Bootcamp, a 21-day series of walking meditations to honor heroines like Sojourner Truth, Shirley Chisholm and Nina Simone.

The boot camp also pays homage to lesser-known Black women.

As first reported by NPR, each weekday, participants who sign up through GirlTrek’s website receive an email with a profile of one of these women, along with related readings, playlists, meditation prompts and a phone number.

As they take 30-minute daily walks, they can call into a live, unfiltered conversation led by Garrison and Dixon.

“GirlTrek has been around for a decade, and we’re not just a fly-by-night fitness organization,” Vaught declared. “Our founders were sick and tired of Black women and their families dying.”

Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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