6250: that’s the number of steps on average an adult would take in a five-km walk. My granddaughter who is two, takes about three steps to every one of my strides – she is a very busy little girl and ‘walking’ involves lots of running and side-steps. This year my granddaughter, son and daughter-in-law walked alongside me as we walked in Steps for Life. So, I am estimating between us we covered some 37,000 steps.

I’ve walked in Steps for Life nearly every year over the last ten or so years, sometimes in one or more walks, but this marked a very special first for me since our walk was in Shimizu-cho, Japan. My son and his family live there, and when I was trying to coordinate his vacation time with my visit the only time that would work was the end of April and early May. I was disappointed that I would be missing out in participating in Steps for Life with my former work family in Hamilton Ontario, but I learned from Shirley Hickman about a new option now available, Your Walk Your Way. It was perfect for me and for my family allowing us to create our own event and team and fundraise as I have in the past. My son of course knows of my involvement in Threads of Life and the importance workplace safety has played in my life – he made some important choices in his summer jobs as a result – so we set out to plan our own walk on the other side of the world.

Eleanor and family participating in Your Walk Your Way, near Mount Fuji, Japan.

In Japan there are a series of national holidays, known as Golden Week, at the beginning of May, and one of those days, Children’s Day, was the day we chose for our walk. We were blessed with sunny skies, and warm breezes – another first for me since nearly all past walks I’ve participated in required stuffing a jacket under my bright yellow t-shirt to avoid freezing.  It was perfect weather! And so in the shadow of Mount Fuji we set off, walking through little side streets of the small city of Shimizu, stopping for prayers at shrines as is their custom, and crossing the bridge to walk in a park alongside the Kano River. On Children’s Day the park is decorated with carp banners and together with the sunny skies was just a beautiful setting for our walk. Of course we had to stop to play in the sandbox, have a snack or two along the way, watch the park golfers in action and try to catch a carp banner in the breeze. It truly was an immensely rewarding experience for us, and a thrill for me to be able to share in the walk with my family. By the end of my 6,250 steps I had ample time to reflect on the power of family and the importance it plays in Threads of Life community.

A special Thank You to the thousands of Step for Life walkers and volunteers who work tirelessly to raise funds for Threads of Life and in turn to build awareness of workplace hazards so we may help bring workers home safely to their family at the end of their work day.

Eleanor Westwood
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