Whatever Philadelphia resident Susie Paige does, she gives her all. And then some.
For 25 years, Susie has been a member of Nazarene Baptist Church in North Philadelphia. She’s taught Sunday school there and is involved with the women’s health ministry too.
Back in April, Susie and a group of other Nazarene congregants were taking their weekly walk around the Nicetown neighborhood when they decided they had had enough of the trash heap that a nearby parking lot and dilapidated, graffiti-ridden building had become –an illegal dumping ground for broken down TVs, worn out tires, old furniture and who knows what else.This had been worsening for about a year.
“It was terrible to look at. The church was beautifying the neighborhood and cleaning up buildings around for church parking and then there was this,” Susie says. “We just got sick and tired of looking at that. We kept calling the city, but they never did anything.”
Team Nazarene sprang in to action. Team Nazarene is a member of GirlTrek, a national health movement and the largest health nonprofit dedicated to Black women’s health. GirlTrek believes that when women become active that they become powerful agents for change.
Susie told everyone from the city of Philadelphia to the neighbors, “You know GirlTrek? We are going to be cleaning up the block.”
And they did. Susie led the cleanup and called the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network to have the graffiti removed.
“The neighborhood has been thanking us. I met a lady who used to clean the block, but stopped when she got hurt and was no longer able to do it,” Susie says.
Team Nazarene is part of the GirlTrek sisterhood. Together, GirlTrek volunteers from Seattle to Washington D.C. and Oakland, Calif. to Philadelphia have inspired 250,000 supporters and nearly 65,000 walkers from across the country to lead more active lives through establishing a routine of daily walking and summer hiking. There is no question that walking works. For these women, walking has become a keystone habit that has led 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.
“The reality is Black women and girls are living under some trying circumstances in today’s world. They live in communities that are under extreme stress whether it be from crime, health disparities, blight or even gentrification,” says Vanessa Garrison, GirlTrek co-founder. “Our walking is not for sport. We don’t hit the streets of our communities for show. Our movement is more than cool hashtags and cute outfits. This is a revolution. Our walking is our activism.”
Susie has been a member of GirlTrek for three years. Her sister, Faye, who lives in St. Louis, ran across the GirlTrek Facebook page and was so motivated that she joined right away – and decided her sister was going to join too.
“I enjoy walking and organizing the walks. We walk year round. We don’t recess in the winter,” Susie says. “I have never walked alone not even during the coldest month.”
To learn more about GirlTrek and to find a walk near you, visit girltrek.org.
As far as the cleanup goes: “This isn’t the kind of thing you do once. We have to keep at it,” Susie says, “and we will.”
Do you want to join the movement? Watch this quick video to learn how.