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May 20, 2024

Weston Walking Group

By Alexandra Queen

Three times a week, something curious happens in the neighborhood around Weston Elementary in Ripon. The sounds of laughter, children's voices, stroller wheels and feet -- a lot of feet -- waft through the air, disturbing the birds and sending stray cats scattering before the parade of people. Then, just as quickly as this column of people marching down the street has come, they're gone. Who are these women and children who parade for four miles in a circuitous, changing path three mornings a week? They're the Weston Walking Group, also known as "the Stroller Mommies". For three years now, this group has been power walking for three to four miles every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning that Weston Elementary is in session. Barring inclement weather or "Star Assemblies" with a child performing, this dedicated group meets under the Weston Elementary sign and leaves at 8:15 a.m. sharp, for a three-and-a-half to four mile speed walk that ends with a frolic in the park for the toddlers and a refreshing cool down and chat for the "mommies". Although the group is composed mostly of neighborhood mothers with pre-schoolers in strollers, that is by no means a criteria for walking with the group. "You don't have to be anything specific," said Heni, the unofficial ring leader and a mom who has been doing the walk ever since it started three years ago. "There's no particular religion, or political party. We all respect each other." Mary Ellen is a local mother who uses the walk as a P.E. period for her home schooled teen, Julianna, who frequently roller blades along with the group. Sand's children are grown, but she enjoys the opportunity to get out and exercise. Her dog, Howie, adores trotting along with the strollers or having his leash passed off to roller-blading Julianna. Regular members also include some who drive in from other areas to enjoy the safety, camaraderie and discipline of walking with a group. April's children go to Colony Oaks, but she enjoys driving over three times a week with her pre-schooler Sara. When her school-age children are off-track, they come along, too, equipped with scooters to help keep up. Another member, Lori, drives over when work permits, to walk by herself or with her kid-friendly dog, Jake. The walking group has anywhere from three to two dozen participants, with a different mix almost every day as people work around their busy schedules. Many of the walkers veer off along the route as their homes are passed, joints act up, or children suddenly develop the urgent need for a "rest stop". At the end of the walk, though, there's guaranteed to be a group in the park by Weston. While the children play, the remaining walkers sit around and enjoy some time to relax and talk. "This is the fiber aspect of the walks," quips April as she removes some tan bark from her youngest daughter's mouth. The members of the group enjoy the ability to come and go as they please, the health benefits of an hour long workout, and the conversation. According to weekly regular Vicki, "It's good to see people doing positive things." This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2003-11-29
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