BW walking club focuses on health, camaraderie

Janette Robinson (front), Monica Ashley (making peace sign), left to right: Denise Haughton, JoAnn Givens, Barbara Johnson, and Diane and Jack Prescott. | Contributed

BLYTHEWOOD – Janette Robinson was looking for a way to meet people and get more exercise, so on May 26 she posted in the What’s Happening Blythewood Facebook group asking if anyone would like to go walking.

The answer, resoundingly, was yes.

“The first day we met, there were three people. The second time we met, there were a few more. The third time, there were a few more. So, now we’ve got a good little core group,” Robinson says.

“What I’m hearing from a lot of these people [is that] we are very similar in that we want to get out and be active, but it’s more fun when you can walk and talk with others. It makes the time go faster. We  don’t walk for speed; we walk for time, and we just walk and talk.”

The Doko walkers started walking together on Memorial Day, she says, and since then it’s developed into a regular event four times a week which typically draws about half a dozen or so people.

“I’m recovering from an accident, and I have a traumatic brain injury, so it helps to walk with other people. It’s one way to get our community engaged,” Robinson says.

“I would love to see more people engaged in physical activity in the Blythewood area. Besides the health benefit of walking, people who show up to walk meet new neighbors as well as people from other neighborhoods. I think when you do that, you build stronger bonds in the community.”

Robinson says it’s also through bits of community like this that people can start to restore the kind of social connections that were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Most of the people who have come out to walk are people who have moved here from other states and other locations,” she says.

“So, they may not know about the riverfront park, might not know about Soda City. I think tour walks can help people learn what’s in their community,” Robinson says.

The group meets at 6:50 a.m. in front of the playground at Doko Manor Park every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and walk for an hour. Some people leave early to go to work; others stay and walk a little longer.

Once a month, the Saturday walk is a “destination walk” at another location in the local area; the first one was at the Saluda Riverwalk, and Robinson has plans to do one soon on the dam at Lake Murray. She says everyone is welcome, regardless of their age or walking pace.

One thing she says she’s learned since getting this group started, is that there are a lot of people in Blythewood who get out to use the park in the mornings. She’s been asking town officials to start opening the gate earlier so they can park in its parking lot while there.

She says she’s looking forward to continuing the walks – and continuing to welcome new members to the group.

“I’m thrilled,” she says of the response so far. “I really had no expectations of what this would look like. I thought if one or two people showed up, I would be super happy, and the fact that people are showing up and bringing their neighbors, I think it’s really great.”

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