Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Walk Leader
What’s involved in being a walk leader?
Being a walk leader with JWSK means inviting other people to join you for a walk once a week (or more!) at a certain time and place. Once you’ve registered as a volunteer with Oregon State University Extension Service and completed a background check for safety, we give you a t-shirt that identifies you as a leader along with sign-in sheets so that we can track participation. We ask you to turn in the sign-in sheets about once a month.
Why should I volunteer?
You probably already know that walking is great for your physical and mental health—well, becoming a walk leader means that you have a reason to walk regularly because your group is expecting you. A lot of our leaders find that volunteering in this way helps motivate them to stay active. But leading a group walk also helps to improve your community. Walking groups bring neighbors together for conversation and make it safer for them to be out. By leading a group, you give people the opportunity to connect and stay healthy, for free.
Where and when will I have to walk?
You choose the day and the route. Most groups walk for about thirty minutes to an hour, but it’s really up to you. Generally, the best meeting spots are public places like schools, churches, libraries, and parks that are easy to find, well-lit, and have parking available. We can help you contact the site to make sure they’re OK with people meeting there.
What if I can’t walk very far or fast?
No problem! Many walkers are recovering from injuries or trying to build up their strength, so they may be glad to go at a gentle pace. There is no required speed or distance—you and your group decide what works for you. We do ask that everyone stay together as much as possible. No one should be left behind.
What if I get sick, go on vacation, or have to work? What if it’s freezing cold, pouring rain, or blazing hot?
You can always cancel your group if the weather is bad or something comes up—just let us know, and we’ll post a notice online. However, you can also find a co-leader or backup leader who can cover for you if you’re away, and we also have umbrellas and gloves that your group can borrow!
Are dogs allowed? Or, do I have to allow dogs?
That’s also up to you and your group. On our schedule, we mark “dog-friendly” groups with a special symbol; the others are considered “dog-free.” This allows everyone to find a group that meets their needs. All dogs are required to be leashed, non-aggressive, and vaccinated.
How will people find out about my group?
We’ll add the group to our schedule online and distribute it at community events. We’ll also announce the group on Facebook and Meetup.com and submit a listing to the newspaper. You can help spread the word by putting up flyers, posting on Nextdoor, or handing out our “business cards” if you see people out walking in your neighborhood.
What if only one person shows up?
Our rule is “walk in threes”—that is, walk leaders shouldn’t go out unless there are at least three people. This ensures that no one is ever alone with someone they don’t know.
What if you didn’t answer my question?
Email or call us (503-373-3760)! We want to know. :)