EAST AURORA, N.Y. — The goal of "The Mom Walk Collective Buffalo" has been the same since it started 34 weeks ago: To create a safe space for moms to come together.
And on a particularly sunny and warm May day, babies were crying, onlookers were 'awing' and the caravan of precious cargo rolled out along the trails of Knox Farm State Park.
"It's nice to get a group of people together that know what they're going through and there's no judgment," said Melanie Janulewicz, the local leader of the group or as she is nationally known Buffalo's host.
"The Mom Walk Collective" was founded just under a year ago by a mom in California who like Janulewicz said she struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety. Drawn to their mission of 'helping women find their village to raise the next generation' she wanted to bring it home.
Since then, many more moms like Leslie Bielecki have found comfort in the next community.
"I remember my first one, I connected with a mom. We talked about our struggles with breastfeeding and talking about tips and things like that," Leslie Bielecki said.
Several moms like Bielecki told 2 On Your Side that the collective has become a sounding board for them, as well as a place to meet new friends. Both themselves and their kids.
Each month they hold two walks at different locations around the Buffalo area, which are posted days in advance on their Instagram. This month their focus is on Mental Health.
"We're encouraging moms to get out and walk a mile every day and just stimulate the conversation for postpartum and maternal mental health," said Janulewicz.
"It's really important because you can kind of get claustrophobic in your own house. You need to get out and do something and take care of your mental health," said Casey Hanania, who was attending her first walk this day.
"I think it's really really good they have this because there's not a lot of things like this here."
Hanania said it was tough finding the drive to get out at first with her firstborn daughter Reagan. She started with Mommy and Me Yoga and then she heard about the collective.
"I'm just happy to be here and excited for some more of the walks," she said.
Janulewicz added that being nervous is one of the most common things she hears from new moms so there is no judgment.
But she encourages them to give it a try: "We welcome you with open arms and we'd love to have you."