National Trails Day® continues to grow each year thanks to all the local clubs and organization that rally together to connect more people to trails. This year, American Hiking Society is proud to connect with another national organization, GirlTrek, to continue to grow the reach and impact of National Trails Day. GirlTrek has organized more than a dozen National Trails Day events in cities from L.A. to New York, and their mission to inspire Black women to walk and hike in their communities makes them a natural fit for National Trails Day.
We asked GirlTrek a few questions about what they love about getting women outside and on local trails.
From GirlTrek’s perspective, why is it important to get groups (especially women) outside and on trails? What’s a great example of GirlTrek’s impact on getting women outside?
GirlTrek is the largest public health movement and nonprofit for Black women and girls in the country. We encourage women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families, and communities. In four years, GirlTrek has mobilized more than 100,000 Black women and girls nationwide and this number is growing every day. By 2018, GirlTrek’s goal is to motivate 1 million Black women and girls to walk for better health. For these women, walking has become a keystone habit that leads to a cascade of tiny rebellions against disease by developing healthier life practices such as eating better, spending less time alone and increased Vitamin D intake due to being out in nature more.
What do people get out of experiencing parks and trails in their local communities?
GirlTrek believes that Black women have the solutions to make the world healthier and stronger. When women get outside, they notice their environments and opportunities to act. This leads to the greening of communities, greater interest in environmental issues and a desire to explore more of the great outdoors. Walking improves communities. When women walk, they meet their neighbors and solve community problems together. Walking changes families. Women take their daughters and sometimes their mothers to start a new family tradition.
Simply put, walking is the single most powerful thing a woman can do to improve her health. Daily walking dramatically reduces risk of chronic disease: heart disease by 50%, diabetes by 58% and improves mental health with a 50% reduction in risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
How is GirlTrek getting involved in Great Outdoors Month and National Trails Day?
GirlTrek has exciting upcoming summer programming that engages thousands of Black women and girls from across the country in the great outdoors. Each summer, GirlTrek brings Black women and girls on hikes in some of most breathtaking places in America from Yosemite National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains and the many beautiful local parks and state parks too as part of the GirlTrek Summer Trek Series.
GirlTrek’s trained and certified trips leaders are leading hikes on National Trials Day around the country from Atlanta to Brooklyn and Chicago to California and more.
How will National Trails Day enhance the impact of GirlTrek?
These hikes are ways to bring even more Black women and girls out into nature and experience the wonder of the great outdoors and the sisterhood of the GirlTrek health movement.
GirlTrek is founded in historic roots of walking; can you share about how GirlTrek started?
Vanessa Garrison and T. Morgan Dixon, cofounders of GirlTrek, brought the GirlTrek mission and history to the global stage at TED 2017 in Vancouver. The TED Talk: “Walking as a revolutionary act of self-care” is a soul-stirring conversation between two friends about the state of Black women’s health, the historic root causes that have led to an epidemic health crisis and the powerful solution that has inspired thousands of Black women to take to the streets to heal their communities. Watch it here.