"Me and you be sisters." - Lucille Clifton 

 

It's officially the off-season!

 

We've been grinding since February. It's been nonstop hustle. Now it's time to fill the Well back up.  For the next six week the GirlTrek staff will be engaged in radical acts of self-care. That means time with family, plenty of rest and, of course, a few good adventures! Now as we prepare to start our annual break there's only three things left to do:

 

1.  Say Thank you: We are blessed with a village of supporters, partners, volunteers and trekkers that dedicate countless hours, precious time and valuable resources to this movement. There are no real words to express how grateful we are for this community. In times of doubt or struggle, you have lifted us up. We hope that as we celebrate the milestone of this year that you are as proud as we are of the work that we are doing together.

 

2.  Reflect: 2016 has been an incredible year.  Just check our full media recap here for proof.  We leaned heavily on our original vision of deep healing and joy for Black women. The type of joy and healing that dances in the face of fear, sings in the presence of death and shouts down systems of terror.  We took that joy and healing with us for a month of organizing - #28n28. We shared it around dinner tables for #WeAreHarriet.  We let it fuel us through Activism April. We displayed it in our Mamathon crowns. We filled ourselves up with it for #GetFree.  We brought it with us for summertime adventures on beautiful trails and mountaintops. It was our bedrock during Advocacy August. It was our source during the Prayer Trek and our reason for the season of Gratitude. We put our joy and healing on display from The White House to the The New York Times and we let it grow us into the largest health nonprofit exclusively serving Black women and girls.

 

3. Celebrate! The most important thing we can do to close out the year is celebrate the women who went the extra mile - our 2016 Trek Stars!  These are the women who went HARD for themselves and their communities.  We watched them all year long as they put in work and we are excited to celebrate them as our final act of the year! 

 

With love, 

 

Vanessa and Morgan 

Congratulations to our 2016 Trek Stars! Organizer of the Year: Carla Harris, Atlanta, GAFor setting the ATL on fire with superhero blue love! Whether it's marching down the street in the MLK parade or posted up on the red carpet with Tyler Perry, you are putting Atlanta on the map. As someone wrote: "she is a master of social media, mistress of every ceremony, and mama-don't-play-that real about handling her business."  Yes!!!

 

Team Leader of the Year: Wanda Olugbala, Detroit, MI

For her faithful, consistent - just for the love of my people and community - leadership. Wanda's team has helped to keep Detroit energized and full of spirit and so many in the city sent in nominations to show their gratitude. 

 

Solo Trekker of the Year: LeNiece Woods, Memphis, TN

For reminding us of the power of one. LeNience is fiercely committed to her own health and daily walks and she uses that as a source of light to inspire others. It is exactly what GirlTrek is all about. 

 

Trek Team of the Year: Delaware Sole Sisters

For making us all jealous! Their pictures are amazing and full of life. They're always smiling and having a good time.  They literally never miss a Superhero Saturday. The Delaware Sole Sisters exemplify the #SistersKeeper spirit of GirlTrek and definitely the Trek Team of the year!

 

Activist of the Year: Susie Paige, Philadelphia, PA

For showing up for your community when they need you the most. There's never a time that Susie is not on the front lines.  She does the work that's often not celebrated but that matters the most.  This year we saw her in action working to get rid of an abandoned building in her neighborhood and she reminded us that change happens on the ground, one woman at a time. 

 

Mama of the Year: Keinika Carlton, Chicago, IL

For showing us that mothers are the first teachers, true superheroes and THE most powerful influence in a child's life.  Keinika does a lot of things for GirlTrek but the most important thing that she does is do it all with her girls and her husband by her side.  When she walks, they walk. And THAT is the heart of GirlTrek! 

 

Transformation Story of the Year: Chasity Davis, Newark, NJ

For losing 200 pounds and sharing about it here in her GirlTrek health testimony. 

 

Comeback Story of the Year: Vonda Vass Summers, Henderson, NC

For being so honest and transparent after falling off of your health game. Vonda was one of GirlTrek's first trekkers.  After years of leading and inspiring others, Vonda had a tough time last year - gaining back a significant amount of weight that she had lost.  This year we watched Vonda get back in the game and back on the pavement. She reminds us all that the race is given to those who endure to the end!

 

Next Generation Award: Madison Wells, Elkton, Maryland

For the smile, the hair, the hustle...it's just too much and we love it!

 

Favorite Testimony: Cherelle Darby, Houston, TX

For showcasing all of the things that make GirlTrek a powerful solution - self-care, role modeling, family, healing. She said, "My daughters and I are very close. They are my cheerleaders and biggest supporters in all that I do so quite naturally this began for them as a way of supporting my efforts to improve my health. None of us imagined how this movement would create such an impact on all of our lives. It enables us to not only focus on our health and black girl healing but we are doing so TOGETHER. It is 2016 and there is so much going on in the world today. As a mother it is my privilege, honor and responsibility to lead my daughters on a positive path. GirlTrek is helping me to do this as they have become a part of my village. I chuckle as I type this because the ladies in our Houston group do not know this but my daughters actually refer to all of them as Auntie. I'm also tripping right now because I just looked at my picture from my first day of GirlTrek and without realizing it my transformation has been two-fold. I have lost the weight and I am the strongest, boldest, fiercest black Queen I have been my entire life!" 

 

City on the Rise: Jacksonville, FL

For coming hard in 2016! This was a hard one.  We had a lot of new cities putting in work.  In fact we were going to give it to Denver after Leslie Williams wrote us and said: "You better watch out for Denver. We just got started this year, but we have sistas all over the state of Colorado wanting to walk! Our walks went from 3 sites to 6 sites overnight. I know we're only going to grow larger in the future. Oh, did I mention that the percentage of African Americans in Colorado is like 4% or something? We got next for realz!"  Denver, Sacramento, Houston...there were a lot of on the rise cities this year, but none of them rose out of the absolute dust to shine brighter than Jacksonville, FL.  Last year we didn't have ANYONE trekking in Jacksonville.  This year, without even one trained organizer, they were able to host some of the largest Superhero Saturdays of the trek season and they are still on fire!

 

Campus on the Rise: UNC Charlotte

For keeping it so fresh and so light and so fun! 

 

Adventure Squad of the Year: ATL Crew

For finding all of the beautiful trails, climbing all of the mountains and searching out every beautiful place in Georgia! When 40 Black women show up for a hike, you know you bad! 

 

Selfie of the Year: GirlTrek Campus Organizers

For being fearless and brave and reminding us all that the best is yet to come!

 

City Turn Up of the Year: Baltimore, MD!

For bringing so much fire and so much joy and so much love and energy that everyone in the city had to stop, pause and take notice! #GirlTrek Honorable Mention: Chicago City Kickoff at Oakwood Shores

 

Social Media Maven Award: Reverend Theresa Thames

For living by example and letting #GirlTrek be your calling card.  Need an encouraging word? Want to see what it looks like to fiercely commit to your own health and self-care? Follow @tsthames on Twitter and Instagram. Honorable Mentions: Shanara Sanders, LA, Jeanine Abraham, NYC

 

Paparazzi Shot of the Year: Denver, CO

This year especially, our walking took on a greater sense of urgency as we took to the streets time after time to reclaim our streets, demand justice and demonstrate our resolve. For us no picture captures that better than this one right here out of Denver, CO.  

 

 

Congratulations to all! Now it's time to rest up and get ready because the best is yet to come! 2017 Get ready! #GirlTrek