GirlTrek is the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States.
Morgan Dixon was a school teacher. As she learned about the statistical probability of chronic disease and early death among her students, she wanted to take action. Morgan knew that walking was a powerful antidote to many of the health challenges faced by those in her community. She began by walking with her students. As satisfying as those walks were, she knew that the solution needed to scale.
With her friend, Vanessa Garrison, they used Facebook to organize a 10-week walking challenge. The next year, women came back and asked Morgan and Vanessa to run the challenge again. That’s when they knew they were on to something.
As important as walking is, Morgan and Vanessa sensed that they were on to something even bigger. Morgan told me, “We started to look to our history for what happened when black women walked for change?” They connected the movement with the history of black women and civil rights. This was the beginning of GirlTrek.
GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families, and communities. They have nearly 100,000 women who participate in their walks, and they are a path to rapid growth. This year they anticipate they will reach 500,000 women and by next year, over 1 million.
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Morgan Dixon
“I felt like I was uniquely positioned to do this because I was that girl.”
“Life felt like a setup for a takedown.”
“It has become a neighborhood walk in sneakers.”
“We just started with ourselves.”
“We did a call to action with just our friends and family.”
“We needed a bite-size ask.”
“Small waistlines and skinny jeans have never been why we do this.”
“They will become the new changemakers in our communities.”
“We had 10,000 people before we had funding.”
“There’s so much power and changemaking that can happen without huge and bloated budgets.”
“If the mom is committed to a lifetime of active, healthy, personal glow, her whole family changes.”
“You have to root, to rise.”
“What is the level of trauma that creates an entire population of people to feel inactive?”
“There were root causes around loneliness and isolation.”
“Loneliness is deadlier than cigarette smoking.”
“We are building movement tools that are based in our culture.”
“That for me feels different, hopeful and constructive.”
“I think we have a spiritual muscle and a grit.”
“I think we are spiritual warriors in a way that allows us to rise above and stay hopeful when things turn incredibly dark.”
“I have the muscle to hope. I have the muscle because my mother has the muscle to hope, and her mother had the muscle to hope.”
“I don’t have the stomach for rage.”
“You have to be incredibly present and grateful for where we are now.”
“It’s OK to make pivots.”
“In order to grow, you have to try a bunch of things.”
“We can’t afford to be apart at this time. We have to come together in common cause.”
“We need you to organize.”
“You can organize a team of you and your daughter for the first year.”
Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being
In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In March, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about all of the Sustainable Development Goals here.