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GirlTrek: Regaining Your Health One Step at a Time

GirlTrek founders T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison share how they were inspired to create the largest health non-profit for Black women in the country.

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Morgan Dixon: Hi Guideposts. I’m Morgan Dixon; I’m the co-founder of GirlTrek, and this is my dear friend and the other co-founder, Vanessa Garrison.

Vanessa Garrison: Hi Guideposts!

MD: So GirlTrek is now the largest health nonprofit for Black women in the country; it’s 80,000 women strong. We are walkers across the country who commit to walking outside for 30 minutes a day as a declaration of self-care, love, outright rebellion against anything that causes disease, sadness, heartache in our lives.

VG: So GirlTrek is a movement that is really rooted and grounded in civil rights history and principles and in Black history as a way and means to inspire Black women to action.

We were personally really inspired by so many different stories, especially the story of Harriet Tubman. She is a woman who walked herself to freedom and then came back many, many times over to liberate her friends and her family. She serves as an example to the women in GirlTrek to the power of what one woman can do to change course for her family, for her community and for her history, and we tell the women who walk with GirlTrek that we can also do that same thing, and we can be beacons of light to our families and communities right now today.

So people always ask us: Is GirlTrek a walking organization? And we always say, no, it’s actually not a walking organization. It is a radical campaign for healing in our communities. It is a commitment to both heal yourself and to inspire your friends and family.

We walk, but we also reclaim the streets of our neighborhoods. We inspire our daughters by standing as healthy role models. We commit to being out in our neighborhoods and to standing up for the things that we believe in. So it’s so much more and so much bigger than a walking organization, and it’s something that we want everyone out there who’s listening to our voices to know, so that you can be inspired to join the movement.

MD: It is a tradition that our mothers did and their mothers did and their mothers did, and in fact, my mom, when I was little, used to sing a song, “Walk with Me, Lord,” all the time. And so for us, getting outside and walking is not only a rite of passage for your journey and healing, but for us, when we do it together—you know, the Bible says, “Where two or three are gathered…”, you know, we really feel a strong spiritual connection to that.

So Vanessa and I as friends, a long time ago, just held each other up. We say we are our sister’s keeper, and now, 80,000 women later, we all hold each other up in a bond, in a spirit. The Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but this is a spiritual game and we have to keep our spirit game up.

So that’s what we do—we pray, we walk. All of those values run really deep in our organization, so we are so, so grateful to be a part of this Guideposts community.

So, if you’re at home right now, how does GirlTrek work? It’s so simple—you just go into GirlTrek.org and you take the pledge. Then you literally lace up your sneakers, go out of your front door and go for the very first walk ever with Girl Trek.

You can find a walk near you by putting in your zip code or you join the Facebook page for your city. That’s how it works!

So the goal of Girl Trek is really to rally one million Black women and girls by 2018. The reason we’re going to rally one million women and girls is we want to mobilize a critical mass so that we can start to change the culture, we can start to create healthy role models and we can change the very fabric of what our communities look and feel like all across America.

So that’s our goal! So come on—girltrek.org. Take the pledge; we need you! We need as many women as possible! We’re at 80,000 now; we’ll be 500,000 by next year. You just watch us work!

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