Physical activity is widely accepted as a strategy to improving and maintaining physical and mental health. Women, however, are less active than men due to numerous barriers including cost, safety, language, transportation, child-minding, stigma, and health concerns. Further, many women living and accessing services in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside have experiences of violence, discrimination, and trauma. Combined, these factors create substantial barriers to accessing safe and appropriate resources, including those that promote physical activity.
Taking Steps: Warrior Women’s Wellness aimed to co-develop and implement a trauma- and violence informed physical activity program for pregnant and parenting women who live in and around Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Through community-based research we established a physical activity program created by women for women.
This program was specifically designed for women who encounter multiple barriers to accessing appropriate physical activity and physical activity resources in the community. The program was a 12- month participatory action research project designed to co-develop, implement and evaluate a trauma and violence-informed walking and education program. Specifically, this research examined if Taking Steps and an equity-oriented approach to programming increases supports for pregnant and parenting women to be more active.
Taking Steps aims to improve access to physical activity by co-creating trauma-and violence-informed physical activity resources and activities with/for women. Our efforts are focused on addressing the social determinants of inequities in physical activity, supporting organizations to offer trauma-and violence informed programs, and providing individual and organizational training to enhance existing physical activity programs.