The Sole Sisters Walking Program, organized by Arrowsmith Community Recreation Association kicked off its season last Wednesday and it will run until the end of June next year. — Kim Longmuir

A group of women that loves to walk the walk

Free drop-in Sole Sisters program features different trails every week

There’s a group of ladies who walk the different trails in the region every week. They’ve been doing it since 2014.

The Sole Sisters Walk program, organized by the Arrowsmith Community Recreation Association (ACRA), kicked off its walking season last Wednesday and it will continue through the end of June next year.

The free, drop-in program runs every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Organizer Kim Longmuir, the ACRA co-ordinator, said each walk usually takes an hour, depending on the trail, which is different every week.

“The group meets at various locations all throughout Arrowsmith and Oceanside,” said Longmuir. “We try different trails every week and what we try to do is, one week it will be a gentler terrain and the next week it might be a little bit hillier or muckier. So that gives people the option.”

Longmuir said that, on average, there are abount 20 women who come out. Last week, the group had close to 30 ladies at their walk at Rathrevor Park.

“It’s a pretty steady little group,” said Longmuir. “We get, in a week, between 15 to 40 people out. It depends sometimes on the weather but people are pretty good. The come out even when it’s raining or snowing. All kinds of weather.”

Those who would like to join need to contact Longmuir to be placed on an email list.

“Because it is drop-in, we send out an email every week as to where the location is for the walk for that particular week,” Longmuir explained. “All fitness levels are welcome. Nobody is never left behind. It’s a very welcoming group.”

Longmuir initiated the Sole Sisters program, which is aimed at minimizing barriers and increasing participation of women ages 55 and older in sports and fitness.

“The program morphed from being a gym fitness program to a walking program because the ladies wanted to stay together as friends and continue to do something else during the week,” said Longmuir. “It is now welcoming women of all ages and all fitness level. Sometimes ladies bring their daughters.”

Longmuir attributes the success of the walking program to the ladies’ keen interest in experiencing different trails that, for safety reasons, they would never venture on their own.

“Being in a group, they have that opportunity to try some trails that are in the backwoods somewhere and encourage them to visit those places with their family,” said Longmuir. “The big part of wellness is the social component, and for some of the ladies it’s a really great day to socialize and be outside. Everybody is supported and encouraged.”

Longmuir said they are fortunate to have dedicated walkers Kathy Budzyn, Susan Grace and Elaine DeRooy, who serve as volunteer walk leaders.

Although it’s a program for women, Longmuir said, “a Sole Brother would never be turned away.”

“If they wanted to come out and walk with us they can but they have to be comfortable walking with all women,” said Longmuir.

On Sept. 27, as part of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Active Aging Week, the Sole Sisters plan to do their walk at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park and they are inviting Sole Brothers to join them.

Those interested in joining the group can contact Longmuir via email at kimlongmuir@telus.net or call her at 250-248-8515. You can also contact Kristine Stephenson at 250-927-3985 or email her at stephenson@live.ca.

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