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The GRAHAM (Green Route Aiding Healthy Adaptation and Mitigation) is an awareness-raising journey and the successor for Canada to Key West. Its name is a tribute to Graham Alexander, who was passionate about the outdoors and its benefits regarding inner peace and mental health. The GRAHAM emphasizes how an accessible, healthy outdoors helps people of all ages and abilities stay healthy – both physically and mentally – and how community can support both mental health awareness and climate justice for people with and without disabilities. 

Nature scene. Man in rain boots walking on a wooden platform on a lake outdoors. Forest in background.


Green Route Aiding Healthy Adaptation and Mitigation

Canada to Key West and The Graham

On June 21, 2019 Marcalee and Craig Alexander left their full time jobs and began a walk from Canada to Key West to raise awareness about climate change and disability. During the walk, the inaugural Day for Tomorrow was held in Washington, DC and Sustain Our Abilities was founded under the original name Telerehabilitation International-with a service goal to provide telerehabilitation in areas of disasters. Unfortunately, the walk needed to be halted in 2020 due to Covid.


Still, the pandemic led to spread of video communication and Telerehabilitation International along with an international advisory board. Rather than developing telerehabilitation in disaster areas, the idea of creating education without borders came to light as a service component.  The team created many live webinars and the book Telerehabilitation Principles and Practice and Sexual Sustainability: a guide to having a great sex life with a spinal cord disorder was translated into Spanish, Hindi, Italian and Greek. The name of the organization was also changed to Sustain Our Abilities. 

The rapid growth of Sustain Our Abilities, the development of educational tools, the launch of The Journal of Climate Change and Health, and family tragedies led Marcalee to postpone the journey. Nevertheless, between March 3, 2024 and April 15th 2024, she finished the Canada to Key West journey, now renamed the GRAHAM. 

Walk-Part 2 began in Rocky Mount, North Carolina with Marcalee back to walking on roads in cities, towns and rural areas. Until Lumberton, North Carolina she had Craig Alexander as a support team (he opted out of continuing to walk). But by the time she got to Florence, South Carolina she had an epiphany, realizing walking with a backpack and no support was untenable. "the built environment in South Carolina is more inaccessible than the rest of the Eastern US I'd travelled. Distances of up to 50 miles without a place to stay, places to find food, cabs or uber in case of emergencies made the journey prohibitive. Just as researchers reach saturation when interviewing participants about a topic, I reached saturation observing the inaccessibility of our country and the inattention to active transportation." Because this is a climate emergency and we've got to accelerate our work, she regrouped and rode a recumbent bicycle from Jacksonville, Florida to Key West. You might ask, Why a recumbent bike? "I can't ride a two-wheeler. Having older, first generation parents, it wasn't something they taught me. Everyone's childhood is different and leads to our abilities or inabilities as the case may be." To Dr. Alexander reality emphasizes the need to make our built environment accessible to people of all abilities.

With the switch, the trip went quickly and in addition to start of the Healthy Living Spaces Letter and The Day for Tomorrow another product of the journey and this unique lived experience will be a book and video. In the meantime, you can learn more about the journey here and take action to improve the possibilities for active transportation in your neighborhood by signing the Healthy Living Spaces Petition.  


Sign the SOA Petition for Healthy Living Spaces

Sign the petition for healthy living spaces, calling on stakeholders to address climate change in a way that safeguards health and well-being.

"For all of our futures, all people need to come together in community and all our politicians, community leaders and industry leaders must put money into greener infrastructure that supports health, both for people and our planet."

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