When Wellness, the Outdoors, and Women’s Empowerment Come Together
Earlier this month, I launched my new series titled, Everyday Muslimah. My intention with this series was to facilitate me expanding my brand, Covered Girl Chronicles, but doing so in a way that benefited the community. Thus, came the idea to highlight the positive impact Muslim women have on our communities globally.
To kick-off this series, I have decided to highlight an all-around change-maker and leader, Ajoa Abrokwa, founder of She Is Focused. Learning about the work that Ajoa does to support and uplift women has truly been inspiring, and I am excited to share part of her story with you all.
I started my interview wanting to know more about the person behind the business. Who is Ajoa A. Abrokwa?
Her story begins in North Philadelphia where she was born and raised, but as you will later learn, her story and impact goes beyond the city she calls home.
Ajoa Abrokwa also wears many hats. She is a professor at Saint Joseph’s University, serving as Graduate Health Education Program Director, teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses in the School of Health Sciences. Some of the courses that she offers focus on Health Promotion and Wellness, Global Health, and Health Equity. Ajoa has been involved in this work for over a decade, committing herself to promoting access and opportunity for those underrepresented and underserved, especially in her own community. Her commitment to the cause has taken her across the world to Ghana, Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar where she has led public health and education efforts.
Ajoa also noted that “while being a mother to three amazing children,” she also occupies the role of multisport athlete–a runner and cyclist. Some of her other hobbies include reading and learning about different cultures and environments through domestic and international travel.
While asking about She Is Focused, it became clear to me how much of a passion project the formation of this organization was and still is for Ajoa. In the interview, Ajoa stated:
“My business was established to make a safe space for women and girls to engage in self-development, physical activity, and community building.”
She also highlighted that the birth of She Is Focused came from her own experience with needing a safe space and community at various difficult moments in her life, noting also how the pandemic pushed her to incorporate cycling into her vision, at the time, as it helped with her mental health and with promoting stability during a very unstable time.
She Is Focused is a woman-centered organization that uses physical activity in the form of cycling, hiking, and exercise to promote positive health outcomes, strengthen people’s connection with the environment, and facilitate growth and self-awareness. With a mission to “empower women and girls in our community to reach their goals and fulfill their potential,” Ajoa has created and implemented programming that addresses the needs of those around her. What is special about She Is Focused, as well as important to note, is that the programming provided is a result of years of interactions, discussions, and experiences with women and girls around her, highlighting her focus on addressing explicit needs and creating accessible solutions. Ajoa made this clear when she stated the following:
“I am a very communal person. I believe in shared responsibility. I truly believe I am creating space and doing work that benefits me, grows me, and enhances my quality of life. It's only right that I expand my reach and include others. I am creating space that I believe is important to grow and nurture because what's good for me is good for my sister. I have daughters and nieces. They are of me, and I want them to be cultivated in safe communal spaces like what I am creating for women and the teen girls through both the She is Focused & Fit and the Philly Focused & Fit Communities.”
Her passions and interests are tethered. In being passionate about holistic health (spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially), she took her interests in the
social determinants of health (SDOH) and created something that was not only needed but doing it in a way that promotes access and opportunity. Ajoa, in our interview, said that she is able “to place almost everything [she does] in one of the 5 main SDOH buckets.”
Finally, when asked how her business connects to her religious identity, she mentioned: “Islamically I believe in encouraging women and girls to be conscious of their health and establish a wellness routine/ lifestyle.”
Ajoa also talked about her modest cycling apparel, providing options for women and girls who wish to dress modestly while pursuing their interest in cycling and/or the outdoors. She stated that it was important for her to provide these options as she herself struggled with finding cycling necessities that were in line with how she chooses to dress and cover.
“Being modest and being an athlete are not mutually exclusive, and the cycling clothing options should be reflective of that."
It’s about transformation and lifelong impact at She Is Focused. I hope you enjoyed learning about Ajoa Abrokwa and her business, She Is Focused. To learn more and to stay updated on the programming she provides, visit her website sheis-focused.com and follow her on social media at sheisfocused_next. Also, check out her modest cycling apparel and stay tuned for more Everyday Muslimahs!