Are you a Black woman thinking about low-stress ways to jumpstart your health journey? Have you already abandoned those New Year fitness goals? Do you just need a community of folks to help keep you on track?
Well, if you answered yes to any of those questions, GirlTrek might be a good place to start. Founded in 2010 by T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, GirlTrek is a public health campaign devoted to transforming the lives of Black women through activism, community, and walking. Now a million members strong, GirlTrek “mobilizes community members to support advocacy efforts” and hosts Black history themed health events.
One such event is their Harriet House Parties to commemorate Harriet Tubman Day, which was enacted as a nationally recognized holiday in 1990. On March 10th, Black women around the world will gather in their homes, with loved ones to reflect on their health, set goals, and hold one another accountable.
Black Joy had the opportunity to speak with GirlTrek’s Director of Program and Community Partnerships, Hailey Darby, about the purpose of the Harriet House Parties, how folks can join in on the fun, and ways to support the GirlTrek movement.
What is the story behind Harriet Tubman Day?
Harriet Tubman Day is actually a national day commemorating [her] birthday. GirlTrek follows in the footsteps of Harriet Tubman because we know that if she could walk to freedom, we can walk ourselves to better health. So, Harriet Tubman Day is March 10th every year, and for Girl Trek that starts with our Harriet house parties.
How did the Harriet house parties come about? I know you have them across the country. So, how was the idea fully formed?
It started in 2018, or 2017…and I believe our co-founders just thought, “Hey, what better way to gather women together on March 10th than to celebrate Harriet, but to also really talk about the year ahead.” What does it look like to actually get healthy? Who do we need in our corner? Who do we need supporting us through our health journey?
What do you all hope women will gain from those gatherings?
I know for me personally, I want women to feel secure and safe in their own bodies…I want them to have a vision for what health looks like for them because I know so often, you’re like, I know this is what the world says health is supposed to be, but what is it for me? Am I capable [of] these things?
So, I just want women to know that they have a path forward that is for them and that they don’t have to do it alone…they can do it with sisters by their side. I also want them to gain a sense of hope for Black women’s health…what does it look like to be joyfully healthy and not walking based in fear but walking based in faith?
What are the next steps after these Harriet House parties?
The whole point of GirlTrek’s Harriet house parties are to have women make goals for the year…all of these goals lead back to our 21-day jumpstart on April 1st [which] is actually the start of our walking season.
So after [the] Harriet House party parties, we invite women to really evaluate their health. What does it look like to get in the best shape of your life? Everyone will be able to start our 21-day challenge, which invites women to walk for 21 days and create that behavior change and earn their golden shoelaces, which is a special thing in GirlTrek.
Whether it’s [the] Black History Boot Camp or our 21-day jumpstart challenge, you can earn your Golden Shoelaces and have some street cred to say like, “Yeah, I did it. I changed my life by walking.”
How can others get involved or support GirlTrek?
There are many ways for everyone to get involved in GirlTrek. We say that first it starts with yourself. So, when you’re ready to get on board, go to GirlTrek.org and take the self-care pledge, it’s super easy. [If] you’re just saying, hey, I wanna take care of myself. I wanna walk in the direction of my healthiest, most fulfilled life…type in your name, you become a part of GirlTrek. It’s completely free.
We also have opportunities to join your local community so you can go to GirlTrek.org and there is a there’s fifty cities across the United States who have GirlTrek hubs, and you can join and get connected to the sisterhood there.
If you’re an ally, so, say you’re not a Black woman, but you know a Black woman, share GirlTrek.org with her. We would love that if you’re an ally. We have Black History Bootcamp, which you can listen to as well and learn about the history of Black people that often doesn’t get told in the history books.