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Minnesotan who grew up in East Africa creates walking club for BIPOC women

Minnesotan who grew up in East Africa creates walking club for BIPOC women
Minnesotan who grew up in East Africa creates walking club for BIPOC women 02:35

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. -- A Minnesota woman who grew up in East Africa is trying something new when it comes to mental health. She's found a unique way to help women clear their heads - and free their finances.

It was a rainy Saturday morning at Ainsworth Park in St. Louis Park, but women showed up - to walk.

Kimberly Steward, who lives in the city, is part of the walking club of women.

"We're all coming together with same or similar problems that I feel like we don't get to talk about on the daily," Steward said.

Steward is a busy mom who likes to make time for this walking club.

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"It's very nice, very intimate, and it just gives us a chance to like let our hair down without the pressure of what it's like to be a woman and a mother and so many titles. We get to just walk and talk [laughs]!" she said.

And they talk about some really heavy stuff, as Yolanda Farris explained.

"A lot of us are struggling silently," Farris said.

Farris has walked quite a journey in life. She is in long-term recovery and coaches women in sobriety. She is also a newly-elected St. Louis Park Council member - a woman with a powerful story.

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It was Muna Ali's story that got the walking club started. The East Africa native recently left her job in finance to start the Minnesota BIPOC Women's Association, hosting programs like a weekly walk and talk about life and money. She explained why walking works wonders.

"You don't have to think about being perfect at it, it's just walking, one of the most mindful exercises that you can do to get our heart healthy," Ali said. "We are incredibly interested not only in the physical well-being of our participants, but their mental health."

She says another important factor is that women of color are freely bonding.

"A lot of our women, they feel alone, they feel isolated, and lot of them also don't realize that we share traumas, that we do come from a shared background. So it validates their hurt, validates how they have felt for many years. She says it's an activity of comfort. That's why everyone is smiling when they are walking. No one is frowning, I love that," Ali said.

Steward is smiling about the group, too.

"They've shown me that I'm not alone and that there are other women going through either what I'm going through or something similar," Steward said.

"When I leave, I don't feel the same as I did when I got here," Yolanda said. "I am always focused on other people. When I come here, I get to focus on me and talk about me and how I feel, and so that's been beautiful."

"Walking with Confidence" will be going on the next two Saturday mornings at Ainsworth Park from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The BIPOC Women's Association has many other resources, with the goal to increase self-worth and net worth.

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