Breaking the isolation, one step at a time

Betsy Mann


“After two years of the pandemic, I knew that people were hungry for connection,” says Amy Carnegie. “A fellow teacher and I had been meeting up for regular walks since the beginning of lockdowns, and I thought that this could work for others too.” Having come up with the idea of forming a walking group, this energetic teacher didn’t wait for someone else to make it happen. “I was already a member of the Sandy Hill online ‘Buy Nothing’ group,” she continues, “so I put out the word on that platform last March, offering my time to organize a weekly group walk around the neighbourhood. I soon had lots of replies, so I knew I was on the right track.”

The next step was to set up a Facebook group under the name “Feisty Feet” to easily communicate with everybody who had expressed interest. There are currently about 20 members, but usually about six to ten eager walkers show up on any given week. Members of the Facebook group can see when the walk will happen that week. Most often, it’s been on Sunday afternoons, but other times, including evening walks, could be planned depending on people’s availability. Sometimes the group has a destination, like a farmers’ market, but most often they simply choose a route from their meeting place at the corner of Chapel and Laurier. “We are lucky in Sandy Hill,” Carnegie observes. “There are lots of interesting trails we can access from here.”

Being active is certainly one of the group’s goals, but it’s important to note that this is not a power walking bunch. The pace is leisurely with lots of time to stop and notice the surroundings. Linda, who uses a walker for stability, appreciates this approach. “I tried walking with another group but even though I was going my top speed, they were too fast for me,” she says. “I feel part of this group. We chat as we walk, and over the hour, you can have conversations with a number of the other people.”

Debbie, who is a newcomer to Sandy Hill, has also found Feisty Feet outings a way to meet other congenial people. “I’ve discovered lots about the area and about activities going on here,” she says. “It’s a bonus that I’ve also met people with whom I share interests and we can plan activities together.”

Carnegie was right: people are hungry for contact and for staying active while also staying COVID-safe. Feisty Feet answers those needs. If you are interested in finding new walking partners in the neighbourhood, search for “Feisty Feet of Sandy Hill” on Facebook and ask to join. They’d love to meet you.

The Feisty Feet walkers like to chat as they walk on paths through and around Sandy Hill, like this one along the Rideau River, taken on a recent Sunday afternoon. Don’t be misled by the photo; men are welcome to join the group for their weekly outings.
Photo Betsy Mann