Kay joined the COTA (WA) mall walking program in Mirrabooka in early 2017, shortly after her seventy-ninth birthday. Kay, who first started walking outdoors with a group of friends in Kingsley, said.

“I loved the idea of socializing and meeting new friends and some of us decided it would be a good idea to try the COTA (WA) program.”

Mall walking leader, Kay and COTA (WA) CEO Christine Allen

Kay went on to be a regular at both Mirrabooka and Karrinyup mall walkers, as well as walking at the launch of both Midland Gate and Ocean Keys.

“Ocean Keys is now my home group and I decided to become a leader, because I felt it would give me incentive not to miss walks and encourage me to be totally committed,” she said.

During the COVID-19 shutdowns earlier this year, mall walking was put on hold for three months. When restrictions were eased many of the walkers decided to meet up again outdoors for a series of breakfast walks. This has continued to be a regular ritual for Kay and her friends.

“Even though we are back walking twice a week indoors, we have continued to meet on Saturday mornings in some amazing locations together.”

Kay has six children and eighteen grandchildren and recently celebrated their sixty-first wedding anniversary with her husband, Roy. She remains busy and physically active, having previously volunteered for the Salvation Army and attends both Chair Yoga and the COTA (WA) strength training program: Strength for Life. Typically covering between 3 to 4km each mall walk, Kay noted that she has made a lot of great friends along the way:

“The walkers are a very happy, friendly group and the retailers and Centre Management are very supportive of us. I would recommend the program to anyone thinking about joining, it has brought so much to my quality of life and there is never a dull moment.”

COTA (WA) chief executive Christine Allen said mall walking continues to be an important part of the organisation.

“Kay’s story is inspiring and shows a commitment that is typical of our Mall Walkers. As much as they enjoy the physical activity, it’s the social connection and friendships that bond our walkers and this is the reason the program is growing in popularity.”

“It’s safe, it’s fun and it’s a great way to meet new friends and feel part of your local community.”

Mall walkers meet across a number of shopping centres twice a week, visit www.cotawa.org.au/programs-projects/mallwalking to find out more.