A STIRLING based woman has been featured in an online exhibition recognising people who champion the joy of everyday walking.
Orla Kelly (35) began walking daily when remote working was introduced at the start of the pandemic and now views it as a vital way to stay motivated whilst keeping mentally and physically healthy.
The mother of two has also been thinking of her family’s environmental impact, with reducing car usage for short journeys being one of the main adjustments.
Orla Kelly’s portrait and walking story is part of Scotland’s Walking Charity, Paths for All’s “Humans of the Walk” online exhibition, launched as COP26 is underway in Glasgow.
The online initiative champions everyday walking and hopes to showcase the immense impact it can have on our health, wellbeing and the environment.
Orla wants to be more environmentally responsible, with her love for walking and the outdoors only reinforcing the choice of a more sustainable lifestyle.
She said: “When I worked in the office, I’d choose to get the train which takes around 45 minutes longer than driving to reduce my environmental impact. My husband usually walks or cycles to work too, and as a family, we always try to avoid taking the car whenever we can”.
Since working from home, Orla has found it completely essential to her career that she takes walking breaks during work.
She added: “It’s not healthy to sit staring at a screen all day, stuck to a desk. In a normal office environment, we’d socialise whilst working and it’s not quite the same when you’re sitting at home on your own. That’s why I now prioritise getting my daily walk in – I feel much more productive afterwards.
“Walking gives me time for just me and my thoughts. If I didn’t walk daily, I’d really miss it. It would badly impact my mental health and ability to handle challenges at home and at work.”
Originally from Northern Ireland, Orla moved to Stirling seven years ago and began volunteering with a local walking group ‘Walk Forth Bumps and Babies’ operated by Paths for All.
She added: “Paths for All is such a vital resource for the community, I started volunteering around 6 years ago and continue to do so as and when it is possible. It’s a great opportunity for people to get out of the house and fall in love with their local area.”
Images captured by the talented photographer Rebecca Holmes and her team, bring to life individual stories of overcoming challenges, connecting to our natural world and feeling our best.
Nine individual stories have been captured in locations all across Scotland from different ages and abilities.
Reducing car travel for short journeys is an important step that Scotland must take to tackle the climate emergency, as car journeys are responsible for 39% of transport emissions.
The charity is determined to promote walking and wheeling as the default choices for short journeys or as part of longer public transport journey to make a happier, healthier and greener Scotland.
Kevin Lafferty, Chief Executive Officer at Paths for All, said: “We can all ‘do our bit’ for climate change by walking or wheeling more often to reduce our carbon footprint, while improving our physical and mental health.
“As COP26 is taking place in Glasgow we want walking to be recognised for what it is – a planet-saving, health-improving force, free and accessible to everyone.
“As a charity, we want to revolutionise the way people use their cities, and stop our spaces from being dominated by cars. Scotland’s towns and cities should be a backdrop for people walking, wheeling, cycling or simply spending time enjoying cleaner, quieter, calmer streets.
“The people who have been featured in Humans of the Walk show just how wide an impact our own individual actions can have – so think of what we could accomplish together.”
Paths for All’s mission is to support people in Scotland to be active every day, everywhere.
The charity works to create more opportunities and better environments for everyone in Scotland, no matter who they are or where they live, to stay active through walking, wheeling or cycling.
To find out more about Path’s for All, visit: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/