CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Dowd YMCA in uptown Charlotte is busy all the time, but early in the morning, it’s a meeting spot for a group of women who are determined to change their culture.
The group: Black Girls Run is a national organization with 50,000 members throughout the United States and an active group in Charlotte
It started as a challenge. Get more black girls to run. And on many mornings, Marleenee Washington and Yulonda Burris help lead a group of runners through uptown.
"We have a lot of running groups in Charlotte, but if you check it out, you won't see a lot of black women. It can be intimidating,” said Washington.
Tiffany smith is new to running, planning to do a 5K race.
“When you think about it, a lot of health issues are related to diet and lack of exercise,” said Smith.
Why is she determined to run?
“Well it's your life, you only got one,” she says.
The women meeting in front of the Dowd YMCA want their own daughters to know the importance of exercise, and they hope to be examples.
“A lot of our children are active because we're active now,” said Burris.
They explain that many black women don't run because they can't wash their hair every day. It would become too dry and it would take too long.
They’re encouraging black women to forge ahead anyway and to not allow hair to become a reason for poor health.
And what is happening when people see the group running?
“We get a lot of cheers, and people honk their horns and wave,” said Washington.