Ashley Wallace goes for a quick trek in an effort to maintain her health. She said it is important to her to stay healthy because she intends to be here for her children as long as possible.
Published November 3, 2019
ADA, Okla. — A Chickasaw artist, mother and employee is topping the charts in the AYA – Your Fitness Journey app despite any hurdles life throws her way.
Ashley Wallace maintains a “Blackbear” rank (one of the highest), with more than 2 million previous steps behind her. She is living up to the name of the app, which means “to go” or “to journey” in the Chickasaw language.
AYA is an interactive mobile walking app designed to keep users moving while learning about Chickasaw history and culture. It was released the same day it was announced by Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby during his 2018 State of the Nation Address. October will mark the app’s one-year anniversary.
“I found out about the app when it was launched during the Chickasaw Nation Annual Meeting and Festival,” Wallace said. “As soon as I saw it, I downloaded it. I’ve had it for almost a year now. It’s very informative. The more you walk, the more stories you get.”
Using step-tracking technology, AYA rewards users as they move throughout their day.
The app tells a historical story through voice-acted walking partners, fictional Chickasaw characters living at important periods in Chickasaw history. Their stories unfold as users unlock new chapters with their steps.
Nannola and Oktani Wallace, left and center, have been the driving force behind their mother Ashley Wallace’s journey to better health. She said it is important to stay healthy and be there for her children. AYA has helped her along the way.
Motivation to maintain momentum also appears as educational unlockable content, which consists of items like traditional prayers, hymns, locations and Chickasaw words.
Wallace has unlocked nearly everything the app has to offer, as she has completed every character’s journey twice over.
“It’s refreshing, looking at the material, reading it again,” Wallace said. “I can relay the information to my kids. It’s just good information to pass on.”
She, her daughter, Nannola (7), and son, Oktani (8 months), particularly enjoy listening to the hymns, Wallace said.
Real-world travels are linked to the app’s journey. Within the app, users take an active role in traveling to the Chickasaw Homeland. Their journey is mapped along the same route Chickasaw ancestors walked during Removal to Indian Territory, a path that is reversed for the app from current-day Oklahoma to Mississippi. Along the way, users get acquainted with historical sites and landmarks.
On their yearly trip to the World Series Stickball competition in Mississippi, Wallace shares the app’s insight and points of interest with her children as they drive close to the same path.
Rising to the challenge
Until recently, Wallace’s lifestyle kept her spry. Weekly stickball practice? No problem. Running to the courtroom for work? Easy. Heading out to a stomp dance? No sweat. She and her family lived active lives, heavily involved in the Chickasaw community and various sports.
But in December 2017, Ashley lost her husband, Jeremy. Not long after, she found out she was pregnant.
“That left me with two kids, single, by myself,” Wallace said. “It was even more important for me to be healthy, to be there for my kids. I’m the only parent left, and so I try to make sure I do what I can to be here longer for them.”
After the birth of her son, an unexpected bout with gallbladder problems landed Wallace in the hospital. After surgery she was under doctor’s orders to not lift anything more than 5 pounds. At that point, her son weighed more than the lifting limit.
“I was down for a year and a half. It took a toll,” Wallace said. “Trying to get back to where I was before, it’s tough; but I have to be sure to keep the mindset that it’s not only for me. It’s also for the kids.”
AYA assisted Wallace in bolstering her physical well-being, one step at a time. Co-workers caught wind of her new walking habits. She told them about the app and soon they formed a group competition to keep each other in motion.
“It’s important, both physically and emotionally,” she said.
The work competition was just one tactic among many in Wallace’s road to better health. She got back into stickball, she joined the Chickasaw Nation’s Unconquered Life program and she started heading to the gym during lunch breaks.
Wallace said there is no finish line when it comes to her healthy lifestyle. Her step counter would agree.
AYA syncs to step counters in Fitbit devices or directly to phones with Apple Health kit.
The app is now available for download in the Apple App Store and with Google Play, with more than 21,000 app downloads made so far. Thousands of users are currently unlocking cultural and historical insight in the app. For more information and updates, visit AYAWalk.com,