The sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority gathered the Madison community at Warner Park to celebrate health and wellness. At the 9th annual Walk It Out event local residents came together in order to receive practical advice and guidance in how to lead an active lifestyle through physical exercise, good nutrition and a positive mental attitude. Hoping to address many of the preventable illnesses that disproportionately afflict black Americans, like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, the AKAs put together this free program to showcase a few of the simple things each of us can do every day to improve our wellbeing.
“Good Health is very important to the community,” said Walk It Out organizer Chloe Brown. “To be able to have a free community health event in the summer with so much going with graduations and parties it’s easy to fall off the wagon. An event like this reinvigorates you.”
Despite the excessive heat and humidity of a warm summer day, the event started with a short 2-mile fitness walk. Lead by designated Walking Champion Joanne Pritchett, age 77, the participants embraced the spirit of heathy living with great enthusiasm.
“You have to keep moving. No body can do that for you,” Pritchette said. “And for me there’s no better way to do that than walking.”
Walk It Out attendees also enjoyed a high-energy dance fitness class led by instructors Nichole Salazar and Tonya Pollard-Sheppard. The hip-hop inspired session called WERQ offered up a fun and accessible movement option that anyone could do.
“Dance is something that runs through everything. It’s universal. It’s fun and it’s easy to follow,” said Salazar. “Participants have the ability to do it at any level and meets the needs of a broad range of ages. And what’s more fun than dancing?”
With many workshops to choose from Walk It Out gave everyone the chance to find good health information of all varieties. The programmed included as well a presentation on mental health and suicide prevention. Khaleah Monger, a student of nursing at Tuskegee University, said she came to the Warner Park Community Center to learn how to lead a healthier way of life.
“The exercise was really cool and I thought the massage therapy would be fun. It’s better than staying at home sleeping,” she said. “I think it’s important for people to know what’s going on in their bodies, especially when it comes to food.”
Chef Rod Ladson of the Bonefish Grill led a master class in healthy cooking. Featuring alternative ingredients with less fat, salt and sugar he provided several valuable tips on how to better prepare the meals we love most.
“Our community is very much tied to our recipes that were handed down to us from our parents and grandparents that were not always healthy,” said Kimilia Daniels, a first-time Walk It Out participant. “I liked how Chef Rod shared with us how we could eat those same things but make them a bit healthier.”
A new convert to the wisdom of an active lifestyle Daniels said she recently lost 25 pounds. Through better habits of diet and exercise she made a few modifications that have dramatically improve her quality of life.
“I didn’t start out just to loose weight. It was really how I could take better care of me and whatever that looks like,” she said. “Walking, starting yoga, taking time to read, getting more sleep, eating better it was the whole thing.”