Its four o’clock in the morning in Port Moresby as the crowd of enthusiastic walkers assemble from all parts of the city at the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Murray
The number increases by the minute and soon the crowd is on the road towards the Hohola Underpass enroute to the Poreporena Freeway to the finishing location at
the Paga Hill Ring Road.
Depending on how one treats the early morning walk, the paces differ, the styles differ and the finishing times differ but the fact remains the blood is kept pumping in circulation in the body as everyone is in motion.
The whole intention of the walk is for health reasons as was the initiative and vision of the NCD Governor, Powes Parkop when he started the walk program in 1995.
Governor Parkop was compelled to introduce the program as he was increasingly worried about the health of city residents brought on by their changing lifestyle.
People dying young and lacking fitness was the Governor’s major concern and so he began walking to drive the message that keeping fit and healthy was important in this modern era where western life style was influential.
The numbers grew each Sunday and then almost everyone in the city realised its importance and started walking for their lives. If it was not with Governor Parkop on a
Sunday, it was on any other day of the week but people started walking.
“It’s a life changing experience,” says regular walker Wilfred Mai.
Mai reflected on the Walk For Life program and the changes it is bringing about in him and in the city as a whole.
“City residents are coming out in numbers week in and week out every Sunday to walk for their health and wellness. Weekly community walks are also on the increase and this is a clear indication that people are serious about change,” he recollected.
Born on October 20, 1966, Mr Mai at one stage in his life, was never conscious of his own health. He lived recklessly, eating and drinking whatever he could without care.
He knows well about health and fitness as a rugby league player – and a very good one at that – but the commitment in him started dwindling when he left the rugby
His fitness dropped to a point of concern and any thought of recovering was far off his mind.
The fact that he was going to start all over again made him give up more and he didn’t know where to start.
“Then I started walking with Governor Parkop every Sunday,” Mai elaborated.
Captivated by the importance of life, 51 years old Wilfred Mai will keep on walking “…and I want everyone to take life seriously and start walking.”
“I am enjoying walking and I realise that there is no need to go through a hectic heavy physical and mental training schedule to transform or lose weight.
“Just simple walking and yoga, topped up with a little bit of nutritional change will make a huge difference.
“If it’s not with Governor Parkop, do it at your own time and pace but let’s walk.
“We all need to be conscious of our well-being,” he said.
Mai adds Yoga For Life to the mix and the benefits are endless from his experience.
He was particular about positive mental development involved with Yoga for behavioural change and healthy living and the expectations on the positive turn arounds in the city in the long run.
Another committed walker NCDC Commissioner Kesley Mune has also realised just how important this program has become to him.
“Leave the talking and live by walking,” said Mr Mune. “It’s our body, our city and our life. We deserve to feel safe, reclaim the streets and join the WYFL tribe for a safer, healthier and cleaner city,” he added.
And as Governor Parkop always reiterates every Sunday, “This morning in amazing Port Moresby. One city of a thousand tribes come together as one people, one city, one country. We are unique, diverse and united so please join us every Sunday at 5.30 am from Murray Barracks to Ela Beach. The walk that is the talk of town. Let’s reclaim our future. Live long, healthy, safe, clean and be happy”.
WYFL Coordinator Elizabeth Viviso is also amazed at the turn out every Sunday and believes it is attracting more and more interest every week.
“We are all one team and let us all continue to work together to make this happen for our health, wellness and fitness. We must also always bear in mind that we are the agents of change and let us start changing our communities,” said Viviso.