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Lead photo: Big run scene, Parkersburg

Organize a community running/walking club.

More than 1,000 people have joined Parkersburg’s River City Runners and Walkers Club. All year, they have dozens of events for adults and children – including beginners’ clinics. And it’s still all volunteer-run.“We wanted to include running in the culture, and we think we’ve done that,” said Sharon Marks, longtime board member.

They love it when people from other communities come visit, to get tips for starting their own. WHAT’S THE CLUB THAT RECENTLY GOT 600 PEOPLE?

Glenville has parlayed a $3,000 grant from West Virginia on the Move into Gilmer County on the  Move, a running and walking program with hundreds of people participating…  DO THEY HAVE A SCHEDULE??  MEETINGS?

In Mingo County, the Tug Valley Road Runners Club used to have only a few big races a year. But they decided they need more regular runs, to help local residents build a habit. Now they hold a 5K every month, most of them not advertised beyond the area. “We wanted something regular for people who were just starting, to help them build the habit,” said organizer Alexis Batausa. “When there’s a 5K every month, people will run inbetween to try to break their personal record.”

Several running clubs have >

West Virginians inspiring West Virginians!

Posted by on 9:01 pm in Uncategorized | 1 comment

West Virginians inspiring West Virginians!

A Movement is Growing – Try This West Virginia from Stephen C. Stonestreet

video created by Stonestreet Creative. Filmed at the 2016 Try This West Virginia conference


This video comes as close as anything we’ve seen to catching the energy of the Try This gatherings … and movement.  West Virginians helping and enjoying each other.  Enjoy!  Then come back to the Web site and explore. You’ll find hundreds of practical, affordable ways to help create a healthier community.

And all the pictures were taken in West Virginia!



Take a look at our 2014-16 Try This WV Evaluation

Community by community!

Posted by on 9:01 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Community by community!

video created by Stonestreet Creative. Filmed at the 2016 Try This West Virginia conference


This video comes as close as anything we’ve seen to catching the energy of the Try This gatherings … and movement.  West Virginians helping and enjoying each other.  Enjoy!  Then come back to the Web site and explore. You’ll find hundreds of practical, affordable ways to help create a healthier community.

And all the examples (and pictures) come from West Virginia!

It’s up to us!

Posted by on 9:10 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s up to us!

video created by Stonestreet Creative. Filmed at the 2016 Try This West Virginia conference

This video comes as close as anything we’ve seen to catching the energy of the Try This gatherings … and movement.  West Virginians helping and enjoying each other.  Enjoy!  Then come back to the Web site and explore. You’ll find hundreds of practical, affordable ways to help create a healthier community.

And all the pictures were taken in West Virginia!

Join the movement …

Posted by on 9:02 pm in Uncategorized | 11 comments

Join the movement …

suphere3Click on the picture to get on board!

Click on the picture to sign up!

Or here’s the direct link:

Join our facebook group page  for:

* Ideas you’ll want to steal: Detailed stories about  West Virginians who are doing great stuff in their communities.

* Funding tips: Ways and places to apply for $$. Deadlines and contacts.

* Latest research: Study after study shows that we’re on the right track. You’ll want to be up to date on that.

* Profiles of community champions. Inspiring people who are making it happen where they live.

* Who can help me? Profiles of organizations that can help you help your community.

* Spotlight on the Try This Web site: a close-up view of useful resources you may want to follow up on.

* Try This minigrant and conference info

Announcements of events and workshops you’d like to know about.

* A monthly roundup of stories, news, pictures and information you can use!

It’s up to us! Together, we can make a difference!

An introduction to Try This ™

Posted by on 2:17 pm in Churches, Fighting Chronic Disease, Fitness: Children, Fitness: Community, Funding, Getting Your Message Out, Healthy Eating: Community, Healthy Eating: Schools, Policies & Infrastructure, Seniors, Troops & Volunteers | 17 comments

An introduction to Try This ™


Parkersburg has added bike racks, bike lanes, colored crosswalks, trails and has even established an alternative transportation council to get more pedestrians and bicyclists onto the street. And once a year, when the city closes some streets to cars, local groups get into the act! (photo, courtesy The OPAM)


This Web site is packed with hundred of do-able, practical ideas and great West Virginia examples of things you can do, to turn dreams of a healthier community into reality.


Our mission statement: “to help knock West Virginia off the top of the worst health lists, community by community.”  

Our motto: “It’s up to us!”


There are many parts to the Try This movement:  


This Web site is one! Available 24/7 with hundreds of ideas, “how-to” resources, and great West Virginia models.  A wonderful online way for West Virginians to trade ideas and help each other! Combine that with our facebook page and other social media, and you get a powerful online resource that helps West Virginians help each other.

35. fri fitness econ devel

More than 500 participants attended 30 breakout sessions at the 2016 Try This conference. And 132 presenters donated their services. Register for the 2017 conference through the conference square on this site.

2. An annual conference for local people who want to build healthier communities.  It’s the Web site come to life! Six annual conferences featured 30 – 40 “how-to” workshops, more than 100 presenters and an average of 424 participants from all over West Virginia!

3. Minigrants for community teams that want to carry out healthy lifestyle projects in their communities.  In our first three years, Try This distributed more than $750,000 in minigrants to 336 community teams. Many communities used their minigrant as seed money to get matching funds, donated resources and volunteer time.

The 2017 evaluation of the first three years of Try This found that, for every grant dollar they were awarded, the community teams leveraged an average of $11 in additional contributions, donations and volunteer hours.

4. Year-round program: Workshops, social media and on-the-ground organizers to help local people plan projects, carry out longterm planning, find resources and get training. Since 2016, Try This has sponsored ten regional meetings and has sparked the statewide Mindful West Virginia network.

5. State-level coalition. Try This is a coalition of partner organizations who recognize that we can get more done together than we can get done apart.  Our aim is to pool resources to help local teams. See below for the list of partner organizations.

6. Incubator.  Try This is a big incubator for big ideas that an only be accomplished through collaboration.



Here is advice about ways to navigate and use this Web site.

Here’s a handy flier you can use to tell people about the Try This Web site.

Here’s a flier that tells about Try This. 

And here are Key Findings from the Try This evaluation.



Who are Try This Partners? Try This is a partnership between local people who want to create healthier communities and a coalition of state-and-regional-level groups who can help them do that.  The regional state-level partners include:

The West Virginia Alliance of Family Resource NetworksWest Virginia Community Development HubWest Virginia Bureau for Public HealthWest Virginia Association of CountiesFuture of Nursing West Virginia, WVU Extension ServiceWVU Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Health; WV School of Osteopathic Medicine, Center for Rural and Community Health; WVU Parkersburg Wellness Program; PATCH 21Grow Ohio Valley; West Virginia Food and Farm CoalitionWV Farmers Market AssociationOur Children Our Future, , Healthy in the HillsWest Virginia National Association of Social Workers Active Southern WV. American Friends Service Committee WV, West Virginia Association for Health, PE, Recreation and Dance, West Virginia Council of Churches, Mindful West Virginia, Step by Step, West Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Who has funded Try This?  The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, WV Office of Child Nutrition, WV Bureau of Public Health, Unicare, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, The Encova Foundation,  The Highmark Foundation, Sisters Health Foundation, The Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon, The Pallottine Foundation of Huntington, The Bernard McDonough Foundation, American Electric Power Giving Back Fund,  American Heart AssociationAppalachian Regional Commission, WVU Health Sciences Center, WV Development Office, Flex-E Grant Program, Appalachia Funders Network, plus Try This conference registration dollars and sponsorship dollars.



Executive Director: Brittney Barlett:   (304) 997-4628

Regional Coordinator: Evan Young:

Administrative Assistant: Melissa Young

Media coordinator: Kate Long: (304) 343-1884


Co-founders: Kate Long & Stephen Smith


Fiscal Agent: 

The Lewis County Family Resource Network

Deanna Palmer, Executive Director:


AmeriCorps Members:

Kionn Burt

Lexi Carder

Laura Anderson

Laurie Ruberg


Why are we doing this?      


Hamlin K-8 work day

More than 90 Lincoln County residents and families turned out to help create the walking trail for their Try This minigrant. They leveraged their $3,000 grant into more than $16,000! (photo, Kate Long)

West Virginia tops many awful chronic disease lists … 

but it doesn’t have to stay that way.  


Our children are at risk. In 2012, nearly one in four West Virginia fifth- graders already had high blood pressure, according to West Virginia University measurements of thousands of children. One in five kindergartners were coming to school obese. Almost one in three adults were obese.

All these things put them at high risk of future type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a wide range of other chronic diseases.

At the same time, West Virginia is #1 in the nation in depression and opioid addition.

We know we can lower the risk of all those things.  It’s up to us!



closeup of public h emerg

West Virginia University’s actual measurements of fifth-graders leave no doubt about the seriousness of the state’s childhood obesity epidemic. (pdf courtesy The Charleston Gazette)

This is about economic development too:


The cost of treating these diseases is busting our state, local and family budgets.  A recent legislative report said seven out of 10 of our health care dollars are spent treating preventable diseases. Let’s prevent them!

As we build healthier communities, we make them more attractive to businesses and people who might like to locate there.

For more information: See the Try This fitness = economic development page and the healthy food = economic development page.






Two things will lower our chronic disease rate, doctors say: daily physical activity and healthier diet.  Click on the blue letters for a list of research studies on the impact of physical activity and healthier diet.


Saturday conference (65 of 74)

Forty-two community teams planned healthy lifestyle projects at the conference and received Try This minigrants to carry out their projects.

This Web site is stuffed with practical, affordable ways to make it easier for people in your community to move more and eat healthy food.

People are not born knowing how to build high-tunnel greenhouses or create running clubs or school-based health centers.  To help you, we’ve assembled high-quality “how-to” resources from around the country and world. 

Every picture on this site is taken in West Virginia. We made sure that each activity we recommend is already working in West Virginia. That makes it harder to say, “Well, maybe it worked someplace else, but it won’t work here!”


feature checklist photo

See the “Try This Checklist square” for a handy way to use the Web site to create a longterm healthy lifestyle plan.

The Try This checklist : make a long-range plan!

The checklist gives you a handy way to make a long-range healthy lifestyle plan for your community.  It helps you prioritize projects in an efficient way.  


Take a look!  Tell other people about it. Bring interested people together and use it!   



Media reports:


Media reports  on minigrants




Other frequently-asked questions:


diabetes income

People from a family that earns less than $15,000 are 3X more likely to get type 2 diabetes than are people from families that earn $55,000 or more. Communities can help level the playing field by giving all people opportunities to be physically active and eat a non-processed diet

What is the Try This philosophy?  The Try This site is evidence-based, grounded in the socio-ecological model of health promotion. We believe that people can make healthy changes in their lifestyles more easily if healthy choices are available in their community.   For a good discussion of that model, see “Translating Social Economic Theory into Guidelines for Community Health Promotion.”

Try This supplies how-to information for people who want to create those choices. Local and state government can adopt policies that promote those choices.

The Try This site also supplies how-to information on a wide variety of such policies.  See “How local officials can help” in the site index.

Statistically, low-income and minority people have poorer health than higher-income and white people do. The Try This Web site is another tool for people who hope to overcome that disadvantage by creating community programs that make it easier for people to move more and eat healthier food.


How did we choose the community activities that appear on the Web site? These activities are promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and other groups that study “what works.” All these activities have been shown to increase physical activity and/or availability of healthy food. All are happening now in West Virginia. Each page includes West Virginia examples.


How was the Web site created?  Kate Long created The Try This site for the children and families of her home state.

The site was funded by grants from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and KEYS 4HealthyKids. It is based with the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition and overseen by the Try This steering committee.

Adam Flack supplied the technical expertise that brought the site together. Hundreds of people supplied information and insight. The site is built on Origins, an adapted WordPress template.  


 Try This (c) 2015 and Trademark 2017 Kate Long





Fitness activity = Economic development.

Posted by on 1:15 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Fitness activity = Economic development.

The Public Health Institute captured the case for fitness = economic development in this poster. Click to enlarge it. Used with permission.

In 2013, after Summersville started featuring fitness and outdoor adventure in its advertising, traffic on the city’s Web site went up 40 percent, according to Summersville Convention and Economic Development director Marianne Taylor.


Every year, Parkersburg closes its streets and turns them into a big park with healthy activities, bringing hundreds of people downtown to patronize the businesses. It was such a success, they now do it once a month, holding a party at a different business every month,giving them a financial boost. (Photo courtesy The OPAM)

Businesses and families want to locate in communities that value fitness, research shows. West Virginia now has the lowest “wellbeing” measure of any state on Gallup’s annual index. It doesn’t have to stay that waay

Colorado cites its healthy workforce and fitness offerings, in attempts to convince businesses from other places to relocate, as this National Public Radio story shows.  The title of the piece is “Businesses seek out areas with culture of health.”

The resources on this page can help you convince others that it is in your community’s economic development interest to make it easier for residents to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Scroll down. Scan through the resources and research.  Get a sense of possibilities. We don’t have to stay on the bottom.


Use these great resources!


Mountain biking now brings thousands of people and more thousands of dollars to West Virginia. Here, mountain bikers line up for the start of the Mountwood race, one of more than 25 major West Virginia races.

Mountain biking now brings thousands of people and more thousands of dollars to West Virginia. Here, mountain bikers line up for the start of the Mountwood race, one of more than 25 major West Virginia races. (Photo courtesy The OPAM)

  • Healthy Communities/Healthy Future. Ideas for ways to create a healthy environment with safe places to walk, bike and play. A project of the National League of Cities.
  • Smart Growth Online: “Supporting the development of vibrant, healthy communities.”  This site is packed nationwide examples of ways communities can grow in a healthy way.  Lots of funding ideas too.
  • The Center for Active Design   This organization offers several books full of attractive designs for public places that encourage physical activity. See “resources.” The center aims to “reduce obesity and chronic diseases by promoting physical activity and healthy eating through the design of buildings, streets, and neighborhoods.”
  • The Local Government Commission / healthy communities page.  A very helpful Web site for local government.
  •  Trail Towns is a non-profit set up to maximize the economic potential of trail-based tourism. They have some impressive economic impact studies on the trails in Pennsylvania and Maryland.  West Virginia is just getting started.


    West Virginia now has more miles of rail-trail per person than any other state. “The trails around Summersville are so popular, we’ve made a map to hand out to people,” said Marianne Taylor, Summersville Convention and Visitors Bureau director.

  • The National League of Cities: Useful Webinars and examples from other cities.
  • “The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure Investments,” by Advocacy Advance. A good summary and discussion by the AARP can be found, with a link to the actual report, at
  • Advocacy Advance research and resources are at
  • The 2016 Benchmarking report from the Alliance for Biking and Walking includes: bicycling and walking levels and demographics; bicycle and pedestrian safety; funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects; written policies on bicycling and walking; bicycle infrastructure; bike-transit integration; bicycling and walking education and
    encouragement activities; public health indicators; and the economic impact of bicycling and walking.
  • Bike to Work: Benefits to employees are matched by benefits to businesses. Employers can get tax breaks for encouraging biking to work:
  • Advertise your events:  I Play Outside is an examples of bulletin boards. Or advertise through your county Parks and Rec site. Here’s a good example:
  • Eat Smart, Move More. North Carolina used to reward communities with small grants. That successful program that fell victim to budget cutbacks.  It was succeeded by the excellent Eat Smart, Move More NC program that offers great how-to tips, but no grants.
  • Fit communities attract business and young people: “The Rust Belt,” a well-produced video about Cleveland, provides many ideas about ways biking, walking and hiking can help rejuvenate a city and attract young people.
  • Healthy local food = economic development: See “Healthy local food as an economic development tool” page.
  • See the Farm to School page.  West Virginia schools spend more than $80 million every year on school meals. If a tenth of that could come from West Virginia, that would be $8 million.
  • West Virginia’s Road Map for the Food Economy: WV Farm and Food Coalition.
  • And things like beekeeping … Remember that, throughout our history, many people patched a living together, making $$ here and $$ there. We need to keep in mind that sometimes, all people need is another source of income that lets them stay in the place they love.



  • Here’s some solid research to bolster your case:



“All the businesses along the streets closed for Park Day reported that they had had one of the year’s biggest sales days,” said Kim Coram, event organizer and Parkersburg City Council member. Click to enlarge.

  • The potential savings of fitness are enormous. In 2010, Duke paired its “cost of obesity” study with a study that estimates the potential savings of fitness. Major findings:
    • Unless changes are made, there are likely to be 32 million additional obese Americans 20 years from now, a 33 percent increase in obesity and 130 percent increase in severe obesity.
    • Keeping obesity rates level could save nearly $550 billion in medical expenditures over the next two decades. See  “Obesity and Severe Obesity Forecasts through 2030,” the Journal of Preventative Medicine, Finkelstein et al., June 2011.
  • Corporate wellness programs pay off:  “A review of 72 studies published in the American Journal of Health Promotion showed an average return on investment of $3.48 per $1 for corporate wellness programs when considering health care costs alone; $5.82 when examining absenteeism; and $4.30 when both outcomes are considered.”
  • More evidence of the high medical cost of obesity from a 2011 Gallup poll:
  • West Virginia study: “Couch potatoes cost millions.”


    Jefferson County’s annual Freedom’s Run nets about $15,000 each year, which the organizers donate to the schools to pay for fitness trails and other healthy lifestyle projects. Photo courtesy The Martinsburg Journal

  • Potential savings of fitness: “In the 10 cities with the highest obesity rates, the direct costs connected with obesity and obesity-related diseases are roughly $50 million per 100,000 residents. If these 10 cities cut their obesity rates down to the national average, the combined savings to their communities would be $500 million in health care costs each year.”  From the National League of Cities Healthy Communities/Healthy Future project
  • Blueprint Mississippi Health Care: An economic driver. For those who would like to see an example of a  state-level study: Here’s the 2012 Mississippi state study examining the economic impact of people’s health on the economy.
  • Pedestrians and bicyclists tend to spend more money. A study by Advocacy Advance showed that bicyclists and pedestrians spend more money per mile than people in vehicles, perhaps because they can stop more easily to shop.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine produces a yearly “American Fitness Index.: The 2017 report again named Minneapolis-St. Paul as the healthiest, fittest cities in the USA for the third year. “What Minneapolis has done brilliantly is put their resources where residents can use them effectively to maintain a high level of physical activity,” Walt Thompson, professor of exercise physiology at Georgia State University, told USA Today. “The city spends double the amount of money on parks per capita ($227 a person) as some other cities.”

    BIG PHOTO. Huntington Fitfest

    In the wake of Jamie Oliver, Huntington is turning into a fitness-conscious town: the PATH fitness trail through town, biking and running groups, Create Huntington, high-quality school food, Huntington’s Kitchen and a variety of Fitness events and festivals like Huntington FitFest, pictured here. Photo courtesy the Huntington Herald-Dispatch

  • Physical activity improves productivity. The Lancaster University Study: Multi-business Study of the  Effect of Low Impact Physical Activity on Employee Health and Wellbeing– 2011 has a wealth of information on the impact of physical activity on employee productivity.  See writeup below the picture.








Also see these Try This pages: Healthy food = economic development tool, create a food distribution system, Farm to School, Encourage road biking, Create a running/walking group



Have something to add? Write it in “reply” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.

A list of everything on this site

Posted by on 1:10 pm in Churches, Fighting Chronic Disease, Fitness: Children, Fitness: Community, Funding, Getting Your Message Out, Healthy Eating: Community, Uncategorized | 13 comments

A list of everything on this site

A healthy community is created like a jigsaw puzzle, one piece at a time. Plan your pieces!

Scroll down and find a one-stop-shopping list of every activity on the site, a menu to choose from. Each link takes you to a page full of resources.

Suggestion: Work your way through the site, a few pages at a time. By the time you finish, you’ll know about a wide range of possibilities and know what other West Virginia communities are doing.



Make the economic development case for fitness / healthy food activities:

2. economic development

Funding:  $$: How to increase your grant success + grant sources

Make it easy for people to be physically active:

4. running and walking
5. build trails
7. water sports
8. get kids active after school2
9. others things communities do

Other important pages coming soon:

John and Regina Elzy
  • Troops and volunteers
  • Churches
  • Seniors
  • Get school wellness councils going
  • Create healthy child care centers

regional gatherings


Healthy Workplaces!

Posted by on 9:00 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Healthy Workplaces!

With Try This minigrant and Second Stage grant help, Active Southern West Virginia is spreading healthy workplace activities to offices all over the southern half of the state!  One of the staples: a simple three-minute Stretch-and-Move break!

Workplace Wellness

This page is loaded with WV specific community resources and examples of ways you can make healthy changes in your own worksite.


Workplace Wellness – Why Do We Care?

Health Benefit

  • According to Center for Disease Control (CDC), workplace wellness programs can:
    • Improve healthy behaviors, increase physical activity and encourage healthy eating.
    • Improve workers’ health knowledge and skills.
    • Create a culture of healthier behaviors at work.
      • A study showed these programs increased employee retention, attendance, productivity and improved employees’ quality of life.

Economic Benefit

  • Obesity and related chronic disease cost money, impacts health cost to employers and employees.
  • A 2010 medical survey revealed the U.S. spends over $1 trillion a year on medical cost and 86% of the cost is associated with heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, diabetes or obesity.
  • According to the CDC, the  U.S. spends $225 billion annually on personal and family health problems including indirect cost of absenteeism, poor, health and disability.

All these reasons provide more than enough justification for addressing wellness where people work to improve health. Together we can continue to address obesity and chronic related disease and get WV off the worst health list by using proven workplace strategies!


West Virginias Worksites Rocking at Wellness



Many WV organizations are partnering to improve workplace wellness–including Try This Mini-Grant Recipients.

The Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action, Inc. (KISRA)

NRG (Sounds like energy) Nutrition Resources and Goodies! (2017-18 mini-grant project)

Click here to see the NRG Mini-Grant 2018 Conference Presentation

Active Southern WV Workplace Wellness Physical Activity Project (Fayette, Raleigh, Nicholas, Summers Counties) (2017-18 mini-grant project)


Click here to see the Active Southern WV Mini-Grant 2018 Conference Presentation

Click on the image to download even more posters to display at your workplace!

Wellbeing Solutions WV (2017-2018 Mini-Grant Project)

Click here to see the Wellbeing Solutions 2018 Conference Presentation


Healthy Berkley Workplace Wellness (2017-18 Mini-Grant Project)

Click here to see the Employee Wellness Programing 2018 Conference Presentation


How you can create and do workplace wellness on a shoestring budget?

Additionally, there are many worksites both big and small, who are eager to start and or expand their existing program! Your organization isn’t alone.


The Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease well@work WV Healthy Worksite Initiative has outlined simple proven method steps to help you get started. The Division utilizes the CDC Workplace Health Model and CDC Workplace Resource Center, additional resources for implementing effective workplace wellness strategies.


Here’s how you can do it too, in five easy steps:

  1. Review: familiarize yourself with well@work WV Healthy Worksite Program resource section and Workplace Health Program Definition and Description.
  2. Assess: Complete and submit the organizational assessment–CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard (HSC) paper or online.
  3. Plan: Develop a Health Improvement Plan (Word Doc) (PDF) with at least one Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely (SMART) objective based on CDC HSC results.
  4. Implement: Use the  well@work WV Healthy Worksite Initiative resources to take action and Try This Set A Good Example Resource for Action. If you are not sure where to start, consider physical activity and nutrition strategies.
  5. Evaluate and celebrate: share challenges, opportunities and success. (Repeat steps 2-5 annually)

Feeling good about wellness? Apply for workplace wellness recognition.


What you can do?

Set a good example. At Try This we have implemented some innovative, informative and always fun workplace wellness practices not only for our staff, but also for those who visit.

  • Our cuckoo clock in the office is set to go off every 30 minutes, no matter where you are, what your doing, or who is there, everyone gets up and moves and stretches. This gets the blood circulating, gets your heart rate up, and is always a good time watching everyone run around the office.
  • We have signs up around the office motivating staff to be active and reminders and tips to stay healthy.

  • Post recipes up in lunch/break rooms with examples of healthy food and snack alternatives. Have pot lucks on special occasions or for big meetings where everyone brings a healthy dish and swaps recipes.


  • During cooler months at the office, Try This hosts a Yoga hour for lunch. Let people from the community or other business join in for even more fun. We chose to offer it FREE for staff and charge $5 for anyone in the community to participate.

Weekly Yoga class offered for the Try This Staff and community members.

Want even more information on how to improve workplace wellness? Here are some helpful links:


Have something to add? Write it in “reply” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.

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Expand farmers markets.

Posted by on 2:53 pm in Churches, Fighting Chronic Disease, Fitness: Children, Fitness: Community, Healthy Eating: Community, Seniors, Troops & Volunteers | 0 comments

Expand farmers markets.

Thousands of West Virginians supplement their incomes through farmers markets. Hundreds make a big chunk of their living there. They win, and the community wins with fresh local produce, often in areas that have limited access to fresh produce. Photo courtesy Bill Richardson, Mingo County Extension Service

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fm photo 3In 2005, there were only 34 West Virginia farmers markets. Now there are more than 120, operating at more than 140 locations, including satellite markets, according to the W.Va. Farmers Market Association. Thousands of people can get fresh produce who could not get it before.

Farmers markets take many forms. They can be farmers making extra money selling from tables and truckbeds. On the other end of the scale, they can be large pavilion-and-stall markets, open seven days a week in season.

“A farmers market improves the attractiveness of the town to new businesses and residents,” said Kelly Crane, past director of the Association. “It says the community is concerned with health.”


Calhoun County’s four regular farmers markets are scheduled on different days so they don’t compete.

The Association put together a variety of manuals and how-to resources, including “So You Want to Start a Farmers Market.” and a “Farmers Market Planning Toolkit.”

It can take a few years, but established markets make money. Phillipi’s market, open four days a week, raised more than $23,000 for 98 growers in 2010. Morgantown’s one-day-a-week market  averages more than $11,600 per month, and offers cooking classes, yoga and other attractions. and

A caution: If you want to set up a market and your community already has one, collaborate. If you can’t join forces, offer fresh food in different locations on different days. Contact the Farmers Market Association for advice.



Want to start or expand a farmers market? Learn from other communities:



Williamson’s one-day-a-week farmers market is one of more than 100 West Virginia farmers markets. Photo courtesy Bill Richardson

Click on the titles:

  • At Charleston’s six-day-a-week Capitol Market, farmers sell from sheltered outdoor stalls, sharing space with a restaurant and year-round indoor food vendors

Farmers drop their produce off at the Belington market, and staff sells it for them

Mingo mobile lr

The Mingo Wellness mobile market – a large van filled with produce – arrives in Matewan on a regularly-scheduled basis. (Photo courtesy Mingo Diabetes Association)

Mobile markets – farmers markets on wheels – are a great answer to the problem of getting fresh food to low-population food deserts.  Wheeling, Morgantown, and Roane County, among others, already have mobile markets that tour the county on a scheduled basis.


Here’s a handy “Try Something New” video from Food and Farm. Great for workshops.

And here’s the Vendors’ Guide from the state. It lists regulations and rules for different kinds of products.


Want to make your farmers market available to more people?


  • Make sure SNAP (food stamp) recipients can use their cards to buy at your farmers market. Your farmers market must sign up with the state Department of Health and Human Services.

    SNAP tokens let low-income people use their “food stamp” money at the farmers market.

  • Double the amount people in your area can buy with their SNAP dollars:
  • Help Seniors stretch dollars. Seniors can get coupons through their Senior Center that help them buy produce at the farmers market. This is the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.  More Seniors will use them if the coupons are handed out at the market, rather than the Senior Center, advocates say.

The Morgan County farmers market solicited funds from businesses and other donors and created a Dollar for Dollar program that lets low-income people buy twice as much with their dollars at the farmers market.

A coupon program is available for WIC recipients that allows them to buy WIC-approved foods at the farmers market. For more information, see:

See if your health department will waive food handling and permitting fees for those who participate in farmers markets. Here’s the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department policy:


Ideas!  Expand your offerings … hook up with other programs:



Some markets, like the Morgantown market, offer cooking demos.

  • Offer cooking classes. In Morgantown, at the farmers market pavilion, organizers are putting together a Healthy Eating program, featuring a culinary station that will give cooking demos every week and hand out recipe cards.
  • Create a farmers’ market kids’ club: In warm weather, the Bridgeport Farmers Market offers a children’s POP (Power of Produce) program every week. They give each child a $2 token to spend at the market. The program has been wildly popular. Here’s a link to the original POP club in Oregon.
  • Invite local healthy lifestyle teachers to teach classes or give demos at the market: Morgantown has featured Pilates instructors, belly dancing teacher, zumba.
  • Include health care services with farmers market: Shepherdstown’s Morgans Grove Market future plans include a sheltered market at the same site as a variety of health care services and a food distribution system.
  • Hold community events at the farmer’s market.  The Buckhannon-Upshur Farmers Market is located in a park community volunteers built.  The community schedules weekly music events, chili cook-offs, family picnics and other events at the market/park.
  • Teach food preservation.  Ask West Virginia Extension Service agents to put on canning demonstrations or classes, using market produce.  You may need a separate location for canning.

Some farmers markets have regular activities. Here’s an egg toss at the Shepherdstown market.


  • Hold Master Gardener classes or demonstrations. The Morgantown market does it. Contact your WVU Extension agent.
  • Build a high tunnel greenhouse to feed and fund your farmers market: In Williamson, Southern Community College students helped build and tend a greenhouse that generates food and funds for the community farmers market.
  • Encourage beekeepers to take part. Find more info from the West Virginia Beekeepers’ Association:
  • Pop-up dinners. When it looks like a lot of produce will be left over at the Williamson market or community garden, organizers sometimes create a pop-up dinner. They cook the produce into something delicious, advertise it by social media, then serve to all.
  • Bridgeport Farmers Mkt POP club 5

    The Bridgeport Farmers Market Power of Produce Club attracted 300 children in its first summer. The kids do fun activities with healthy food, then get $2 tokens they can spend to buy their own. (photo courtesy Debbie Workman.)

    Have special events that benefit the food pantry or feeding program.  In Charleston, for example, one day each summer at the Farmers Market is “Buy green beans for Manna Meal” day.  People donate green beans, and volunteers string them for freezing.

  • Here are some farmers market recipes

Useful resources:


The Davis farmers market is scheduled for late Friday afternoon, when weekend visitors arrive.

Newspaper story: “Local foods movement in West Virginia has been called “a model for Appalachia:'”



Also see these pages: distribution systems, community gardens, high tunnels, healthy local food = economic development, healthy cooking classes



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Start a Youth Sports League

Posted by on 2:52 pm in Churches, Fitness: Children, Fitness: Community, Policies & Infrastructure, Troops & Volunteers | 9 comments

Start a Youth Sports League

When Braxton Schools didn’t offer soccer, Braxton parents created their own 200-kid soccer club, Jennica Barker and about 20 other parents are volunteer coaches. Barker’s four kids play in the league. “It gives me a new way to be with them,” she said. (Photo: Kate Long)

When Braxton County Schools said they couldn’t offer soccer, Braxton parents did it themselves. A parent took out a newspaper ad, asking if others wanted their kids to play soccer.

Their example – and many others – say: This is something you can do!


Every Thursday night in Harrisville, community volunteers, including kids, worked on The Gym. Here, kids are helping finish the gym floor. Photo courtesy The Gym.

Ten years later, Jennica Barker is one of 20+ parents who coach in The Braxton County Soccer Club for more than 200 children at a field they lease from the county. Barker’s four kids all play in the league. “It gives me another way to be with them,” she said. And as of 2013, Braxton County started offering high school soccer.

In Ritchie County’s Harrisville (population 1,876), citizen volunteers have turned an abandoned school building into a community gym and multi-use facility. The local Assembly of God church started the effort with a financial donation and a lot of volunteers. With almost all donated labor, they refurbished the gym and installed a rubberized walking trail around the edge. “Our little town could otherwise could never have afforded a facility like this,” said Doug Jackson, a lead volunteer.

They call it “The Gym.” A children’s basketball league plays inside and a mini football league and soccer league play free of charge on a leased adjacent field. In exchange they help keep up the field.

Eight West Virginia communities are lucky enough to have YMCAs and/or YWCAs, which offer a range of afterschool sports programs. But in communities that don’t have one, Harrisville and Flatwoods show what citizens can do.

Read more about The Gym at .


Advice on ways to get started:


Here are some high-quality resources:  



Toddler soccer gets kids started. “Many of our coaches are learning along with the kids,” said Flatwood’s Aaron Sliger.

  • Great guidebooks and handouts. This whole site is worth exploring. Particularly aimed at helping lower-income communities.
  • National Alliance for Youth Sports.  Has strong sections of advice for recreation agencies and parents.
  • Upward Sports.  This is a Christian youth sports organization that helps churhes organize teams or leagues. Go to the upper left corner and type your zip code into “Find a place to play”
  • Want to start a student sports team or league? Want to connect with others who have done it?

  • First, inventory existing leagues and groups in your area. What’s missing? (There is no statewide overall list of privately-run West Virginia leagues, though lists exist for some specific sports.)

YMCA of Southern WV: Get ideas about a variety of  YMCA sports programs and get-moving programs. Click on “programs:”

  • Y-Move: All WV YMCAs offer the 30-minute Activate America exercise program as part of the daily afterschool program: “30 minutes of functional conditioning in a kid-friendly circuit training format that utilizes lively cardio-cascular, agility and balance games to get your child active.  Y-Move helps improve body composition, joint integrity, bone density and muscle endurance.”


    All over the state, volunteers coach young boys and girls in Little League.



photo: Chip Cunningham, The Charleston Gazette



Tennis: Youth tennis is not yet organized statewide. You can find various local opportunities by typing “tennis, West Virginia, afterschool” into a search engine.

West Virginia’s min-Mountaineer Afterschool Program, specializes in tennis. This national program has two local West Virginia locations – Berkeley Springs and Beckley – and aims to spread statewide.







Swimming: About a dozen West Virginia swim teams belong to USA Swimming, the nation’s largest governing body for swim teams. Together, they are West Virginia LSC (Local Swim Clubs). Most train at a YMCA, a college or university or some other indoor pool. Membership has lot of benefits, including extensive training and background checks for coaches and other resources: Click on “Member resources” at the top of the page.

The Fairmont Area Swim Team (FAST) has provided hundreds of young people with a great way to stay fit.

WV Local Swim Committee: Fairmont’s FAST (Fairmont Area Swim Team) has a well-developed program with three different levels of competitive groups and regular events.

Bicycling: National Interscholastic Cycling Association (high school mountain bike league) offers a good how-to-start-league handbook.

West Virginia Mountain Bike Association includes student groups.


Several youth sports leagues operate out of the refurbished Harrisville community gym. Barketball,teams involve dozens of young people. Photo courtesy The Gym.

Boys basketball:

For any other sport: Go to and type in afterschool and the name of the sport, and a variety of resources will come up.  Then go to a search engine and type in the name of the sport, “West Virginia” and “afterschool,” and West Virginia resources will come up.

Start a junior Olympic program. Type “USA Junior Olympic programs” into a search engine to find a wide variety of links to various junior Olympic sports. Junior Olympic programs are eligible for various helpful resources, including grants and events kids can attend.


Be sure to read the $$ page of this Web site. 



Want to make sure snacks and other aspects of your program are healthy?


The Braxton County Commission rents the Flatwoods field to the Soccer League parents created for a dollar a year. Photo: Kate Long

 Also see these related Try This pages: Start a children’s running group, Girls on the Run, afterschool programs, running / walking groups, school run-for-fun groups, share school buildings after hours, Get parents and kids exercising together, Hula hoops, Frisbees and other fun stuff



Have something to add? Write it in “comments” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.