By Emily Fromant, Wellbeing Editor
The Croft Magazine // Created in April 2021 by Sophie Brown, 'Steppin Sistas’ aims to reach out to local women of colour in the Bristol area to encourage an interest in walking, wellness, and bonding over similar lived experiences. In conversation with Sophie, founder, writer and wellness advocate, she shared many of her thoughts and hopes for the future of the 'Steppin Sistas'.
Wellness is so targeted towards slim, white women, how can we open the space for more inclusivity?
It can be difficult, as many do not understand what women of colour go through, because they have never experienced our situation. It can be hard to make people understand, that sometimes we do not feel welcome or safe in certain spaces. It is very subtle discrimination, and obviously it has come a long way, but more attention needs to be focused on women of colours mental health.
How to get into walking as a woman – safest trails, favourite trails in Bristol?
East Ville park is a stunning walk, it is flat and very safe and so beautiful. It is rather busy, so you’ll never be isolated or alone and a easy walk so it’s suitable for beginners.
What are your plans for the future, any new and exciting things in the works?
The main thing I am working on is stretching things out more. Working on more walks, we are also collaborating with other walking groups for larger walks in bath and avon. We’ve also been getting involved Cotswold outdoors. In the future, I would like to hold a walking camping trip for members to get together and relax. I have also been nominated for the Bristol MTM award for health and wellbeing, which is very exciting; I am also a little anxious as I am not the best public speaker, but am very grateful as well.
Walking and mental health: does it really work? Why does walking create such a passion for you?
It truly does work. Nature is the natural environment, which can help you to feel more grounded, less stressful. I have been walking since 12 years old, and it has really helped me through hormonal changes, I have Noticed my mood changes when I walk as well. I have written an Amazon book: words of wisdom, talking a bit more around my expeirnce.
What precautions do you take to keep members safe?
There are many precautions we take as a group. I take risk assessment walks to scope out an area before we go, to ensure it’s safe and determine how difficult it will be. I also use repeated walks, where I am familiar with the terrain and route. We are also always accompanied by health and safety marshals. In our Facebook posts we also include a description of upcoming walks, scheduled weather, and equipment/recommend attire – this way, you know if a walk is appropriate for your ability. We want to have fun, and be safe as well.
How to get involved?
We have a Facebook group that we recommend joining in order to get more involved. It is a very welcoming community, and its where we post information about our walks.
The Facebook group, titled ‘Bristol Steppin Sistas (All women of colour welcome)’ can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/223891986148385/
Epigram / Sophie Brown