Health issues like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease overwhelmingly affect black women and it is the mission of the Black Girls Run! movement to change those statistics. Founded in 2009 by best friends Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks, Black Girls Run! started as a way for the friends to blog about their goals and give advice to people who were asking them about staying fit.
“We had both gotten really fit and lost some weight and people started asking us what we were doing,” Hicks said to CNN. “People were really surprised, like ‘You’re running?’ We said we should really start blogging about this.”
Black Girls Run! has gone from a blog to a movement, with women forming running groups across the country in cities like Atlanta, Denver and New York using the site’s Facebook and Twitter pages. BGR has given black women a community and support system. Combined, BGR’s Facebook and Twitter pages serve around 25,000 women. “I love being a part of it. I love the camaraderie,” said Ebony Adams, a BGR runner. “I don’t have family and friends that are as encouraging on my running journey and I know that I can always look to BGR to be supportive.”
Juanne Harris considers BGR an inspiration and says it changed her life. “It’s life-changing to see what it does for the women in the group,” said Harris, a BGR ambassador in New York. “When someone comes to you and says, I can’t believe I’m running, I’m asthmatic, or I lost 20 pounds and I’ve met my goal weight, it’s inspiring.”