A not-for-profit hiking and adventure group that encourages women to be body-positive is making great strides in Wyndham.

Barwon Heads resident Richelle Olsen founded Escaping Your Comfort Zone in 2016, by creating a Facebook event for plus-size women who wanted to go hiking.

Last year, she received a Sports Innovation grant from VicHealth to help develop the group, which now has about 800 members across Melbourne and Geelong.

“I’ve always been an adventurer,” Ms Olsen said. “I’ve done aerospace camp, cycled from Canada to Mexico, which took me 5000 kilometres, and my size has never stopped me.

“You want to be a cheerleader to tell people, ‘Yes, you can do it!’ because there are so many other messages in the world.”

Last year, more than 250 hiking and activity events organised by Escaping Your Comfort Zone’s 21 volunteer leaders took place in Victoria.

One of the volunteer leaders, Kylie Harris of Werribee, described the group as “amazing”.

“It’s just had a positive effect on my life – making new friends, meeting like-minded women and seeing new places, doing things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise done,” she said.

The two women said that although the group was initially aimed at plus-size women, it was open to all women.

Ms Olsen said that most of the group’s hikes were ideal for beginners.

She said some hikes were pram-friendly and that children who could walk for 90 minutes were welcome to accompany their mothers.

See escapingyourcomfortzone.com or facebook.com/pg/escapingyourcomfortzone for details.