One organization that has pinpointed a specific demographic and made its mission encouraging members to make healthy living a priority is Black Girls Run. According to www.blackgirlsrun.com, 80 percent of African-American women are overweight, and with that statistic comes an alarming array of other health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
BGR began as a blog for Tony Carey and Ashley Hicks of Atlanta to share their running adventures and efforts to stay healthy. The blog resonated with black women of all ages and grew into a movement to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community. Carey and Hicks founded Black Girls Run in 2009 to provide encouragement and resources to new and veteran runners with the goal of lowering the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.
Since April 2010, BGR has launched 69 running groups in 30 states with more than 52,000 members, a number which increased by more than 102 percent by February 2012. The Alabama BGR headquarters is in Birmingham — BGR Coordinators for Anniston are Lisa Glover and Kim Moore, and Tamara Kidd for Oxford.
Kidd, who joined BGR three years, says membership is free — just go to the website, find your local chapter, and join.
Kidd has her own Facebook blog, Women on the Move, where the 39-year-old Anniston native details struggles with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and balancing the demands of her full-time job as a social worker for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Talladega, being a wife to husband Brian and hands-on mom to two teen sport stars, ages 13 and 16. Yet, she still finds time and energy to get her run on.
In her posts, Kidd mixes humor with reality checks, and despite having the cheekbones of a supermodel, she exudes a vulnerability that makes her seem approachable. Simply put, women can relate to her, and she to them.
Recently Kidd took time out to answer a few questions about her connection to BGR, and why she is excited the movement has come to our area.
Q: Why do you run, what motivates you?
A: I decided to run solely for my own health reasons. I was not in the best shape or health overall. Running is my drug of choice. It’s cheaper than therapy, and it’s where I can listen and talk with God. It’s my happy place.
Q: Why join BGR, a group of just black women?
A: My passion has always been to solely work with women regarding fitness, primarily the African-American community. BGR provided me with the support system I needed to get my health back on track. I felt compelled to help other women do the same by encouraging and motivating them to make lifestyle changes to improve their overall health.
Four out of five black women are overweight or obese, and I want to do everything I can to decrease those statistics. I have a 13-year-old daughter myself, and it’s important to me to model a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy food choices and exercise. As obesity and related diseases continue to increase among minorities, BGR has the opportunity to inspire these women to get healthy and fit. It’s not about being a particular size — we just need to be healthy.
Q: Does your family run with you?
A: My family sometimes accompanies me with training runs, however, due to their hectic work and sports schedules, we are limited in the times we can run together. My son, Kaleb, who is a member of the Oxford High School basketball team, won the Heritage 5K in Hobson City for his age group, and my daughter, Makayla, ran in the Superman 5K with me last year.
Q: How often do you run?
A: I run four, sometimes five times a week, averaging 20-25 miles a week.
Q: You’ve been running for several years, but when was your first race?
A: I ran my first 5K at the Anniston Army Depot (Making Tracks 5K) on my birthday two years ago. Since then, I have completed several 5Ks, 10Ks and two half marathons.
Q: What is your favorite race?
A: My first half marathon at Disney World. It was exciting to run through the Disney Parks and take pictures with all the Disney characters.
Q: So, what’s next on your running bucket list?
A: I will turn the big 4-0 next year, so I definitely want to run a full marathon. I want to cross that off my bucket list for sure!