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Two health advocates teamed up for the creation of a movement designed to empower Black women and girls to take charge of their health. For the past 8 years the nonprofit organization—dubbed GirlTrek—has been inspiring individuals to heal their bodies and reclaim their communities one step at a time, CNN reported.

The collective was created by T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison. Cognizant of the racial health disparities impacting Black women the two friends, who met in college, were determined to create a platform that promoted health, wellness, and self-care. For Dixon and Garrison, the mission behind GirlTrek was personal. They wanted to break generational cycles and change the narrative surrounding Black women and wellness. “It wasn’t because we were walking enthusiasts or because we love to walk. When we started we were just trying to save our own lives,” Dixon told CNN. “How do we not fall in these pitfalls that our mothers and our aunts and our grandmothers have fallen into? Eighty percent of us are overweight and carrying that weight is killing us now at disproportionate levels. We can’t do it anymore. We can’t carry it anymore.”

What started as a walking challenge for family and friends quickly grew into a national movement where over 170,00 women are walking with groups across the country with the assistance of 1,000 organizers. The mission goes far beyond getting fit. Many of the walks are inspired by civil rights pioneers and are hosted to spread awareness about issues impacting the Black community. The walks have fostered conversations amongst Black women about playing a role in the redevelopment of their communities. “We know that when Black women walk, things change, and that we walk in the footsteps of that legacy,” said Garrison.

GirlTrek is on a mission to have 1 million women pledge to walk 30 minutes a day by 2020.

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