Frank Chance is an avid walker – he and a friend once spent two months in Japan hiking the 800-mile Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage – so he was more than happy to get involved as a Clark Park Walk Leader for We Walk PHL, a program in partnership with Fairmount Park Conservancy, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.
“We Walk is important because it brings people together in a way no other program does: It’s formal enough to give structure but informal enough to really allow people to have conversations,” says Frank, 70, who lives in Spruce Hill. “And it’s healthy. The more you walk, the healthier you are.”
Frank says some walkers have reported significant weight loss since adding the twice-weekly Clark Park strolls to their routine. Others say it helps them to stay active regularly.
“If they take a few weeks off, they say they don’t feel as lively.”
One woman told Frank the program helped her stay mentally fit after her husband’s death.
“It’s been important for her to have social contact as she recovers,” he says.
Relationships built during We Walk events have spilled into other aspects of Frank’s life.
“It’s nice to know other people who are walking all over the city,” he says.
The Clark Park group meets on Monday and Friday mornings at 8:30 am. We Walk PHL offers weekly walking groups in the spring and fall seasons, but these dedicated walkers meet year-round, weather permitting: “Through the heat, through the cold, as long as it’s not ridiculous,” Frank says.
A WeWalk memory that makes you smile: The sight of two women near retirement age taking a break to play on a swing set. “They were laughing like third graders,” Frank says. “It was just so heart warming.”
You love Clark Park. Tell us about some of your favorite stops there:
#1 – The group meets at the statue of Charles Dickens and Little Nell. The statue’s complex history is a story that Frank loves to share. (In three short sentences: Dickens declared he wanted no monuments honoring him after his death so his work could do the talking. An American sculptor made this anyway and, unsolicited, sent it to Hyde Park in London for permanent installation. Dickens’ fans met the statue at the port and refused to let it come onto British soil, so the statue was returned to the U.S. and installed here in 1906.)
#2 – The large rock from the Battle of Gettysburg that memorializes Satterlee Hospital, the Union’s largest hospital, which once sprawled across the park and the surrounding neighborhood. Frank’s home is on former Satterlee land and he believes the house may be haunted by Civil War-era ghosts. “I have doors that open and close in the middle of the night. I think some of the soldiers are still around,” he says.
My favorite thing about WeWalk is… the diversity of the people I have met through the program.
Click here to learn more about the We Walk PHL program.
We Walk PHL is funded in part by the Pa. Department of Health’s Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant.