WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Links, Incorporated (The Links) hosted its 25th Annual Walk for Healthy Living Walk-A-Thon on Saturday, September 26, 2020. With 234 chapters across the U.S., Nassau, Bahamas, and London, England participating, The Links galvanized members, families, and their communities, while adhering to social distancing guidelines, to raise awareness about the benefits of walking. Walkers also took to social media to share #LinksontheMove and #WalkforHealthyLiving photos as well as their “why” around the importance of making physical activity, specifically walking, an important component of daily life. “What we know is that walking is critical to our health for both members of The Links, Incorporated and the community at large, and for 25 years, the Walk for Healthy Living Walk-A-Thon has shown the power of movement,” says National President Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Ph.D. “Our members and communities prioritized their health on Saturday, taking steps toward improved fitness, decreased stress, better cognitive function, and an overall happier mood — all of which are essential as we continue to ensure the cultural and economic survival of African Americans and other people of African ancestry.
The Links had a number of notable members participate, including: North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, Triangle Park (NC) Chapter; House of Homeland Security Committee Majority Staff Director Hope Goins, Arlington (VA) Chapter; AARP CEO JoAnn Jenkins, Reston (VA) Chapter; Lt. Governor of Illinois Juliana Stratton, Chicago (IL) Chapter; President of Tougaloo College Carmen J. Walters, Jackson (MS), Chapter; and 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Mary Wineberg, Cincinnati (OH) Chapter.
Wineberg, a national Walk for Healthy Living committee member, knows all too well the benefits of consistent physical activity. “Simply walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes or more several days a week can lead to significant health improvements,” she says.
The Walk for Healthy Living Walk-A-Thon has continued to gain momentum in attendance and importance throughout its 25-year history with international community engagement. Recognizing that more emphasis needed to be placed on health equity within the Black community, The Links has been on a mission to move physical activity from a pastime to a priority. Mary Clark, the national chair of HeartLinks and Walk for Healthy Living signature programs reflects on the inaugural walk: “It is hard to believe that 25 years ago I walked in Central Park with members of The Links, Incorporated including the late Betty Shabazz. The walk has grown tremendously throughout the organization and our community. So many look forward to this event as a way to spread the message about the benefits of walking for health. Walking is easy, impactful, free, and everyone can go at their own pace.”
Leading up to the milestone event, The Links hosted a series of compelling Facebook Lives featuring members who are experts in the health and medical fields. Viewed by thousands on social media, the health-focused programming highlighted the benefits of walking, how to incorporate walking into your daily routine, and testimonials on life changing experiences from walking consistently.
Understanding that African Americans and people of African descent are currently at a higher risk for serious illnesses such as heart disease and stroke made even more prevalent by COVID-19, The Links are advocating for improved community health through walking now more than ever.