(Photo credit provided by: Samia Minnicks Photography www.SamiaMinnicks.com)
Black Girls Run! was founded in 2009 by Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks. CEO and Owner Jay Ell Alexander came on board as the PR Director in 2011 and purchased the company in 2018. That same year she also founded the Black Girls RUN! Foundation, a philanthropic arm of the organization. Jay Ell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with a concentration in Journalism from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and a Master of Science in Strategic Public Relations from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. She is also a certified Run Coach and completed her first marathon in 2014. Jay Ell has a passion for running and believes it takes a community to make sure we are healthier as a people.
Why was it important for an organization such as Black Girls Run! to be created?
It was created as an opportunity to create space and opportunities for Black women to have a presence in endurance races (5Ks, 10Ks, half, fulls, etc.). We created a MOVEment and community for Black women to have representation and to have something they can be a part of that will support them on their health and fitness journey.
Share about the various Black Girls Run! events and how they have impacted the women that attend?
We have events at the national and local levels. Locally, we have seventy-five groups nationwide that host meetups and weekly runs for our women to participate. Nationally, we host trainings, meetups at races and conferences. These events allow women to see more Black women on the pavement and receive even more support on their personal journey.
What advice do you have for Black women who want to be more physically active, but feel they don’t have the time?
You do have the time. You make time for what you want to do. Stop the excuses and start small. Wake up 15 minutes early, and go walking outside. Take the kids on their bike to the park and you go walking with them. Do squats during commercial breaks. Start somewhere.
What are some ways we, as a community, can encourage more physical activity for a healthier lifestyle?
Like it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a community to make sure we are healthier as a people. It can start in the kitchen and on the pavement. We have to show our children and our grandparents what it means to be healthy and change behaviors we have known culturally.
What do you hope for the future of Black Girls Run!?
I continue to pray for the continued growth and expansion of Black Girls RUN! – that we have a presence in all states and expand internationally. It is also a goal to launch a program for young Black girls.
To learn more about Jay Ell and Black Girls Run! please visit https://www.jayellalexander.com/about and https://blackgirlsrun.com.
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