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Community Highlights: Meet Co-Founders of Phoenix Babes Who Walk

Today we’d like to introduce you to Phoenix Babes Who Walk, Katie Caldwell, Deysia Chase, Alexandra Cook, Grace Juliet, Ashanti Leach, Sarah Oh, Aja O’Neal, Julie Quinn, Hope Tate, Cayla Vertreese.

Hello Phoenix Babes Who Walk, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
The co-founders found each other online through a Facebook post. We’d seen the success of City Girls Who Walked NYC and Chicago and wanted to establish something similar here. We all met on a Zoom call and planned everything. All of us needed friends — some had just moved to Phoenix, some were working remotely, so they didn’t receive much social interaction throughout the week, and others were struggling to meet new people after the height of COVID-19. We figured if we were all in need of friendships and community, other people in Phoenix would be, too. 11 people showed up to our first walk. We went viral on TikTok shortly after that. Over 100 people attended the second walk thanks to the power of social media. The number of people who continue to show up proves that an inclusive, safe community is something people really need here in Phoenix.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest obstacle we have faced is rebranding from our original name to Phoenix Babes Who Walk after a transfer of directorship and legal implications. The amount of support and kind messages we have received from our community has been incredible. Thank you, Phoenix Babes, for continuing to believe in this community and us. We are so grateful to you all.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Phoenix Babes Who Walk?
Phoenix Babes Who Walk is a free walking club dedicated to empowering underrepresented individuals by upholding our values: community, inclusivity, honesty, courage, and wellness. “Babes” is the chosen term for our community members. We hope that “babes” encompasses not just women but queer and non-binary people as well. We emphasize that our club welcomes the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, and disabled people of all ages. Two times a week — Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings — we walk about 2-3 miles for 45 minutes to an hour. We move our bodies during this time, chat, and make friends. Something special about our community is that we see new walkers come alone every week and leave with new friends. People stay after the walk for upwards of an hour to chat and get to know one another even more. We are proud of creating a community where people feel comfortable being authentic. This authenticity and kindness have created a space for people to feel safe, included, and welcomed. So many walkers have let us know that this club has improved their mental health, which is why they get out on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
Our community is the reason we have been able to grow so quickly. We are grateful to have many people supporting our organization and attending our weekly events. Seeing some of the same people come out and walk with us week after week is an incredible feeling. We’d also like to thank Hey Rosie Creations, Nocco, and St. Jude’s for giving us opportunities to give back to our community. Finally, we would like to recognize the founder of City Girls Who Walks NYC, Brianna Joye Kohn, for the inspiration and starting the first walking club of many. Thank you!

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