Bridget Edwards’s “Crim Journey” began in 1995 as she watched runners and walkers stream by her Mott Park home during the annual Crim Races. A couple of years later, she joined in, walking the 10-mile route. But after surgery for a brain tumor in 2008, she lost hearing in one ear and the nerve affecting balance on the right side of her body was gone. “I had to learn to steady myself again,” she said. “I was like a toddler learning how to walk.”
But Bridget was determined not to stop. Two years later, she was finally able to walk in races again. And then, she started to run. “One day, I felt confident enough to try and my husband encouraged me to start training,” said Bridget. “It was something I’d wanted to do even before the surgery.” She ran the Crim 8K in 2013 and shortly after that connected with the Flint Area Year Round Runners and Walkers. In January 2015, she began training for a marathon. During that training, she met Tamitha Taylor, a long time CrimFit Training Program Group Leader. After the marathon, they continued training together and Bridget later met Kermit Pitts, a Crim board member, and long time runner. In late 2015, Sole Fam Straight Outta Flint (#SoleFam) running group was formed and quickly became her second family. Bridget even went on to become one of its group leaders.
The members of #SoleFam, for the most part, did not know each other before joining the group. But you’d never know they weren’t life-long friends. One member was diagnosed with cancer in December 2017. At that point, she had only been running with the group for seven months. “In true #SoleFam fashion, we pulled together and did all we could to support her and her husband–just like family,” remembered Bridget. “Unfortunately, she passed away in October 2018, but she is forever in our hearts.”
Another #SoleFam group member and long time CrimFit Training Program participant told Bridget about Girls on the Run, a program that teaches eight to 13-year-old girls life skills through a curriculum that integrates running. Bridget decided that she, too, wanted to volunteer. So she began coaching a group of girls at Durant-Tuuri Mott Elementary School, where the program is part of the Community Education Initiative. Community Ed, led by the Crim in coordination with Flint Community Schools, provides a holistic array of supports and services from more than 50 different partners to help Flint kids and families succeed.
The Girls on the Run lesson plans included mindfulness practices with the girls. “During one of the sessions, we took five minutes just to breathe and prepare before the lesson,” said Bridget. “It made a difference right away. The girls were noticeably calmer and more attentive.” Shortly afterward, Bridget received an email from the Crim offering Yoga training for educators. She signed up so that she could better incorporate Yoga and mindfulness into the work with her students.
The Crim began offering yoga and mindfulness lessons to Flint Community School students starting in 2012. Interest and demand continued to grow each year and the Crim also expanded to providing mindfulness training and classes for the public. “We found that not only were the kids responding positively to what they were experiencing with mindfulness, so were the teachers,” said Sarah Sullivan, the Crim’s Mindfulness Director. “To empower and support educators and to increase the Crim’s capacity to provide mindfulness to more people, we began to offer trainings and classes. At this point, we have trained more than 60 individuals to teach yoga and mindfulness to young people, making this transformative experience available to more people than ever.”
During the class, Bridget met one of the Crim’s Mindfulness team members, Tom Hauer, who told her about monthly Community Yoga and Mindfulness sessions at the Crim. So she began to attend these, as well, and brought some #SoleFam members along with her. In the process, she learned to find space in her life for herself. “I used to jump from one thing to another and lose track of what I was doing. Now, the mindfulness and yoga are my time to reset and chill out, to not worry about anything, to focus and be quiet. It’s something I’ve never done before. But I find it energizes me and I’m more productive.”
Bridget feels that the Crim has contributed tremendously to her personal growth and helping her find balance and focus in her life. It has also given her the opportunity to forge friendships and lifelong connections along the way. “I have friends now that I never would have had before becoming involved with the Crim,” she said. “I keep encouraging others to get involved; there are so many FREE opportunities. It really is life-changing.”
“The Crim’s work is for the betterment of each individual, which in turn builds a better community,” she said. “Self-care trickles down to the whole community and together, we’re helping each other be better.”