By Gill Stewart at
We are delighted to have helped the charity 4wings to set up a sustainable community WALX programme for a group of Women in Liverpool, many of whom are refugees who have had some pretty tough times.
The results have been fantastic
WALX Instructor Elizabeth Kerley (known to all as Kerley) delivered a 6 week pole walking programme at the Liverpool Lions rugby league club who also supported the project
Despite being a fairly flat field in an urban setting Kerley and the Ladies were pleased to have access to some hot drinks facilities but are now looking to expand their walks into wider areas including some hills! The final session will be held at a larger Park between Liverpool and Everton football grounds and other local Instructors are going to help out with some walks too.
Kerley told us that she used strapless poles initially and then added some walking drills, balance drills and strength exercises from the Total body WALX programme to create some variety and maximise the workout value in the limited space. The participants seemed to really enjoy the activity, appreciating the effects using poles has on their bodies feeling the propulsion , abdominal engagement and better posture.
They are very enthusiastic: for some language is a bit of a problem but they can pick up the technique from observing and copying. Some must not appear in photographs and attendance has been hampered by covid self isolating and the school holidays.
To ensure the programme is sustainable, two of the participants Fatou and Nahou are training to be Community Walx Guides. They have attended every session and Kerley told us that she has gained more understanding of some of the difficulties and personal issues they have faced.
One has experienced being homeless for 10 months before being moved to Liverpool. Both are tired, they do not sleep well ; 4wings have helped them massively. I was invited to a storytelling event with stories, music, personal accounts, drama, dance and food with delicious dishes from all over the world to raise awareness of the ” lived realities of refugee and asylum seekers” in Liverpool and the diversity of the women involved with 4wings. It was a very vibrant , joyful but informative event with a real buzz and I was made very welcome.
Kathrin the organiser from 4wings and Kerley are keen for the 4 wings walking group to develop and continue after the initial programme with Kerley supporting them monthly. The aim is to train more volunteers as community WALX guides to make sure the original group keep walking and others can join in when they are ready too.
This is what some of the group told us
“After the long boring lockdown, those sessions of Nordic walking came to energise my body and being with this lovely group really lifts up my soul.
It is my first experience with Nordic walking and using the poles. It is relaxing, enjoyable and makes me more aware of my body during walking which usually I do not do.
Nordic walking gives me the chance to use and engage the upper part of the body. I highly recommend it for people who want a relaxing and easy way to exercise.
Kerley is an amazing coach and she is a lovely friendly person. She makes the whole experience fantastic.
” I am enjoying the training and I have learnt a lot from it. It is the first time I have exercised outdoors and I ‘ve really enjoyed being outside.When you are at home you keep thinking and thinking about things but when you go out you meet friends and it makes me feel less stressed and more relaxed.
“Lovely to see everyone today. Nordic walk and exercises is so good and healthy.It is such an incredible new thing for me to learn. I really enjoy the Nordic walk. Sessions are so interesting and really useful for me. My girls love the Nordic walk. They both enjoyed it a lot today in the park.
( Farah brought her two daughters aged 11 and 7 who used leki childrens poles for a bit and then played in the play area)
Kerley finished by telling us
I have really enjoyed delivering this 6 week course, it has remotivated me after lockdown apathy and it has been a real pleasure to meet and get to know this charming and receptive group from 4 Wings and Liverpool Lions .