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 >
We have moved the minigrant application materials to https://trythiswv.org/minigrants. Check it out!
Project by project, we can create healthier communities … and have fun doing it!
COVID19 cancelled the 2020 conference, but not the minigrants!
Try This awarded 31 minigrants in 2020!
Next opportunity: June 2021. Time to plan!
Applications will open on April 21.
All application information and links
have been moved to https://trythiswv.org/minigrants
There is also an online version of the Try This checklist (part of the application).
For easiest submission, do the Word version first, then transfer answers to the online version.
> The application form will ask you to supply 3 – 5 SMARTgoals for your project. If you aren’t sure what that is, here’s a helpful tutorial and link to a great SMARTgoals video.
> And here is a handy freestanding version of the budget sheet that you can use to work out your budget before pasting it into the online form.
> For a detailed overview, read this basic info: How you can build a team and apply. You can download this sheet to your computer to read.
How are applications scored?
What is the Try This Checklist?
The Checklist helps you look at what’s already been done in your community and choose priority projects. You can download it to your computer and fill it out with your team.
The checklist does the most good if your group fills it out and discusses it together. It MUST be completed and submitted with the application. Transfer your answers to the online version for easy submissi
What are the reporting requirements?
Here are the PDF versions of the minigrant application / reporting forms. Take a look. It’s not hard if you keep up your statistics as you go along.
Important! You will not be able to save and return to your report if you do it on the Try This site. You also can’t edit the report once saved. So we recommend downloading a digital version of the mid-year and final report forms so you can work on them at your leisure.
When you’re finished and satisfied with your report, copy and paste it into the online version. If you have not received a link for this please contact email@example.com
- In Fayette County, grade-schoolers eat salad ingredients and potatoes they grow. “You never saw kids like salad so much,” said David Seay, Fayette Food Services director. They follow the Junior Master Gardner curriculum. Schools can get free training and help if they want to use this curriculum. Scroll down and read more about the Junior Master Gardener Program under “resources” and at
At Morgantown’s North School, students plant an international garden that includes 35 raised beds with plants from countries they study. They built them with the help of a Lowe’s Toolbox grant. They raise food year-round and use their gardens as a math and science platform. The curriculum was created through a partnership between WVU teacher ed program and the North School staff. Children perform pH tests on the soil and test the light, to see which raises the best vegetables, for instance. WVU faculty designed some of their projects, and many come from “Kids Gardening: Helping Young Minds Grow,” a field-tested, proven program of the National Gardening Association. http://www.kidsgardening.org.
- WVU faculty and the North Elementary staff created a gardening curriculum that coordinates with the state’s curriculum standards objectives (CSOs). Here is a sample unit on growing strawberries. And here’s the bigger curriculum: North Elementary: Garden Project-Based Growing
- At George Washington Elementary in Eleanor, Putnam County, teachers illustrate classroom lessons with vegetables students are growing in the school’s high tunnel (hoop) greenhouse. They use the Junior Master Gardener Program. “Through this program, youth learn how to grow their own food, and it turns into a life skills situation, showing them where food comes from,” said Extension agent Chuck Talbott. “We’ve had kids sitting in a garden eating spinach like potato chips because they’d never seen it growing before.” Putnam County master gardeners volunteers keep the hightunnel program well-oiled.
Want to create school gardens? These resources will also help:
- West Virginia School Garden Toolkit. This is the first thing you want to look at. It may have everything you need. Created by West Virginians for West Virginians.
- The new Farm to School Resource Kit, developed at Morgantown’s North School, is a fabulous resource.
Free help and materials available through West Virginia’s Junior Master Gardeners curriculum teaches kids how to plant and grow food and flowers on a basic level. West Virginia State University Extension Service is the West Virginia headquarters for this national program. Their staff will come in and train school staff to use the curriculum and help a school write grant applications and will give them helpful materials. Read more at http://jmgkids.us/what-is-jmg . In West Virginia, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call West Virginia State University and ask for the Extension office.
www.StartaGarden.org. This wonderful new national resource was created by a West Virginian! You absolutely want to look at it as you plan your garden. It helps you plan a growing experience in everything from a raised bed to a tin can or plastic cup! A must-see.
- The “Young Ag” page on the WV Dept. of Agriculture site. Full of good curriculum ideas.
- West Virginia Outdoor Classrooms facebook page is full of great ways you can move part of your day outdoors.
- National Youth Garden Association: Kids Gardening: Helping Young Minds Grow. www.kidsgardening.org
- Here is the database that links Common Core Math/Reading and Next Generation Science Standards to lessons in The Growing Classroom, a curriculum used at North School: http://www.lifelab.org/
- Use gardening to teach math: http://www.gardeners.com/buy/math-in-the-garden/8593685.html?SC=XNET9488 and http://math.about.com/od/arithemetic/fl/Math-in-the-Garden.htm and http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/11/math-in-the-garden/417135/
- Here is a powerpoint of pictures that leads you through the hightunnel creation process. Click on the photo at right. Created by WVU Extension agent Chuck Talbott, it shows the step-by-step creation of the George Washington Elementary High Tunnel in Putnam County.
- West Virginia school garden support network: Here’s a facebook page for the WV support network.
- Here is a wide variety of resources from School Nutrition.org.
- And you can subscribe FREE to Youth Gardening Gazette, published by the American Horticultural Society.
- Watch this West Virginia video: “Early education through growing gardens,” by the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition’s Fresh Ideas in Action series, featuring West Virginia State University Extension Service.
- Browse through The Edible Schoolyard: five stars, a wealth of good materials about creating a program. http://edibleschoolyard.org/
- Become familiar with the case for school gardens: Why is it a good thing for kids to raise food? WVU Extension makes the case: HERE
- Help kids make a gardening newsletter. Here is a sample from North School: Volume1Issue1GBL at North
- Here’s the USDA’s Farm to School and School Gardening Resource list
- EarthBox in Our Schools: http://earthbox.com/videos. A variety of videos that provide tutorials on school gardening and show how teachers incorporated gardening into their schoolday.
- In the video below, two North School teachers talk about ways they use the garden to get the kids moving and teach core subjects:
Teach kids simple ways to cook food they grow:
This book got great reviews: Grow It, Cook It with Kids: http://www.amazon.com/Grow-It-Cook-With-Kids/dp/1845979699
Ingredient: A Magazine for Kids Curious about Cooking: http://www.ingredientmag.com. Check out their sample issues and free resources.
Consider container gardens. If you don’t have a garden plot to till, an alternative is container gardens. http://naturalearning.org/greendesk. Scroll down to “Growing edibles in containers.”
For inspiration, look at Granny’s Garden School in Cincinnati. Amazing. 24 acres of school garden. Entire meals 100 percent from school garden. Sunflower outdoor learning garden. This site also has learning activities by grade level. http://grannysgardenschool.org
Need money /resources for a school / community garden program?
Partner with your local WVU or WVSU Extension Service. They can help you get it going and keep it going (see photo on left).
Make a list of other local groups (garden clubs, etc.) that could supply volunteers.
- www.kidsgardening.org Check it out! Packed with ideas, funding possibilities, and great examples.
- GardenABCs. Another treasure chest
- Growing Safer Gardens. A fine Web site and a good grant list
- The Try This funding page includes numerous sources of funding for gardens, including the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant North School received.
- Here are some good pages to mine for garden grant possibilities: https://www.kidsgardening.org/grants-and-programs/ and
- If you have signed up for Fuel Up to Play 60,( http://www.fueluptoplay60.com) you are eligible to apply for healthy lifestyle grants of up to $4,000 per year. The money must pay for something that will last, which could be raised beds or part of the cost of a high tunnel greenhouse.
- Try local fundraising. This is a great, affordable project for local firms to support, either with direct funding or in-kind contributions.
- Cut your costs by hooking up with local people certified as master gardeners. They have to do community service each year to keep their certification. Maybe they’d like to help with your project. You can find them by asking your extension agent to give you a list of them.
- Here are useful national funding source lists.
Here is another video of teachers at Morgantown’s North School, talking about other ways they
have connected the gardening program with their academic program.
Have something to add? Write it in “reply” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.
West Virginia is a national leader in the campaign for healthier school food. Soda and junk food machines are out of elementary schools. By the end of 2014, the state Office of Child Nutrition had trained cooks from every county to stop reheating processed food and cook from scratch.
Cooks trained cooks. “Cooks who were used to reheating processed food often worried that they couldn’t get meals cooked in time if they use fresh ingredients,” Cabell County cook, Alice Gue, one of the trainers. “We show them ways they can do it. It’s a lot better for the kids.”
Click here for the vegetable-packed red sauce recipe and other “from scratch” recipes.
And click here for ways to get money for the necessary equipment for your school.
It’s something West Virginia can be proud of, said Office of Child Nutrition director Rick Goff. “When I go to national meetings, people ask my advice about how they can do what we’ve done.”
“It’s a lot better for the kids, and in the long run, it saves money,” said state nutrition coordinator Kristi Blower. “The more students who eat school meals, the lower the cost per meal. While your cooks are working out the kinks, it may cost more at first, but over time, it definitely tends to cost less.”
Want to make sure your schools are minimizing processed food?
- Get familiar with “Smarter Lunchroom” activities natiowide. Educate yourself and your group. Start with the www.smarterlunchrooms.org Web site.
- Local parents are important. Most cooks have been trained to cook from scratch, but they’re not required to do it. If parents ask for it, it’s much more likely to happen.
- Read your school menus. Ask questions. Is the chicken pre-cooked and processed or cooked from scratch? If you have questions about what you see, talk with the food service director. The situation may be better than it seems. The from-scratch pizza recipe, for instance, is made from vegetable sauce and whole-grain crust. Here’s a list of county nutrition directors: .http://static.k12.wv.us/child-nutrition/docs/county-food-service-directors.pdf.
- Get on the school wellness councils. Wellness councils have no legal authority to require schools to do anything, but they are official bodies that, by law, must meet. They give you a way to work constructively with your school.The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for school nutrition. They have a lot of resources for parents that explain the laws and list resources. Try this overview and this one for parents
- Every school system is required to have a Local School Wellness Policy. Here are details of the requirements.
- Call the WV Office of Child Nutrition if you can’t resolve a problem locally. Their staff can help you figure out how to solve a problem or can, in some cases, intervene. (304) 304-558-2708.
- Find a roadmap to an ideal meals program, healthy school recipes, and information about individual schools, in the OCN’s publication, The Playbook: Creating a Model Food Service Program in West Virginia.
- Get ideas from other places. Canfit is a national organization dedicated to helping communities improve the health of their schools. http://canfit.org/our_work/nutrition/
- Look at West Virginia’s school nutrition standards. They have drawn national praise. Read about them here: http://centertrt.org/?p=intervention&id=1103
- Check to see if your schools qualify and are participating in the healthy afternoon snack program.
Find out about the OCN’s efforts to improve school food:
- Here’s a video from the USDA featuring West Virginia:
- Check out the West Virginia School Nutrition Association facebook page.
- Read about a seven-county pilot project: “Success from Scratch.”
- “The Great Kanawha Food Fight” includes a history of the Jamie Oliver episode and its aftermath.
Want to make healthier home-packed lunches?
Have something to add? Write it in “reply” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.
West Virginia is at or near the top of many “worst health” lists, but we can change that, step by step, community by community. This Web site brings hundreds of affordable ideas, top-notch advice and resources together in one place.
Here’s how the site works:
1. On the home page, run your mouse over the photos. Titles appear on the squares. Single-click on a page, and it takes you you to a page full of ideas, resources, and pictures. (If it takes you to a big picture with no writing, you’ve clicked too many times > Click back one page.)
2. Scroll down the page. Explore the links. We’ve tried to find the most useful links on the Web, so we’ve pre-screened them for you.
3. You can make the home page display information about only one area – healthy eating, for instance. Go to the blue space on the home page and click on “healthy eating.” The photo grid will change to show only “healthy eating” squares.
4. If you want to look at a list of every square on this site, click on the INDEX square.
5. You can also use the Search feature in the blue area to the left.
Don’t be overwhelmed. Look at a few pages at a time.
The squares are mixed in together because that’s the way it happens in life. If you want to look at only squares related to one area – physical activity in the community, for instance – click on those words in the blue bar on the home page.
Use this handy checklist to keep track of your thoughts. (It’s a Word doc, so you can save it to a folder and type on the form.)
If you’re working on a long-range community plan, use the Try This planning tool / checklist:
* To find it, click on the blue words above. The planning tool is a useful checklist of every square on the home page. It’s a handy way to review a wide range of possible things you could do. Download it, and you can take notes on it and store it in a folder.
* Take notes as you go through the checklist. If you come to an item you want to know more about, click on the link, and the relevant Try This page will come up.
* If you’re working with a community team, the checklist makes it easy to compare ideas. Everyone fills out a checklist on their own, then compare. It’s an organized way to make a priority list.
* After you choose priority projects, decide who will research what on the Try This site. Set a date to report back.
* Read through the pages you agreed to research. Review all links and check the “also see” pages at the bottom of the page. Take notes. Then suggest two or three steps your community could take toward that project.
* Report back and suggest next steps. Listen to suggested steps on other projects. Discuss. Make a plan. Take the next steps. Make a plan. Take the steps. Etc.
* Visit other West Virginia communities that are already doing the activities you selected, if you can.
Make it fun! Celebrate every success! Enjoy the people on your team. Dream. That keeps it going.
How do you keep yourself from pigging out at a church dinner or a buffet? How can you exercise when the weather’s bad? What can you do to lower your stress level at work? In the picture above, Roane County seniors are trading answers at a six-week class at the Amma Senior Center that helps them better manage their own health. The class is free. They were learning practical, low-cost, non-medication ways to lower blood pressure and blood sugar, thereby controlling/preventing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and a range of chronic diseases. Several said their blood pressure and blood sugar had dropped since they started the class. The state is trying to spread free or low-cost classes statewide, in which West Virginians help each other learn new ways to avoid or control chronic illness. Solid research says these kinds of face-to-face programs work. The West Virginia feedback is good. “I can’t think of anything that would do more to reduce West Virginia’s bad numbers than to spread these classes all over the state,” said Perry Bryant, director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
How can such classes be offered regularly in your community?
Self-management programs teach you what you can do for yourself to: (1) control your chronic disease and keep it from getting worse and/or (2) keep yourself from getting those diseases in the first place. People in the classes support each other. Both kinds of classes encourage people to move more and eat smart. All the classes and programs recommended here are based on research that proves the work if people use them. The Bureau for Public Health especially recommends programs that have been proven, by research, to work. These programs are called “evidence-based.”
There are three kinds of evidence-based programs:
(1) programs that help people control heart disease, type 2 diabetes and a range of other diseases:
- Chronic Disease Self-Management (CDSM) classes are for people who already have diseases such as diabetes (including Type 1) and heart disease. Developed at Stanford University, these classes help people develop ways to weave better nutrition, exercise and stress reduction into busy lives.
- The classes apply to all chronic disease, but can also provide information specific to, for instance, type 2 diabetes.
- Here is research showing the effectiveness of this program.
- Here is a list of existing CDSM leaders and regional coordinators as of 2014: Marshall
University organizes trainings for CDSM leaders. Contact: Dr. Richard Crespo at Marshall University. email@example.com
(2) Programs for people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes, who want to avoid getting it:
- The National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP): http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention, teaches people how to avoid getting Type 2 diabetes or heart disease in the first place. If you would like to start an NDPP program in your community, contact Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Here is research that shows that the NDPP program is highly effective when followed.
- Are you at risk of diabetes? Check and see: www.wvdiabetes.org
(3) Programs for anyone who wants to improve flexibility and general fitness:
- Walk with Ease program, the Arthritis Foundation: This one is easy to adopt. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/tools-resources/walk-with-ease/
- Paid classes. Many West Virginia hospitals and clinics and social service agencies offer diabetes counseling. It is often excellent, but they may charge hundreds of dollars. Insurance will often cover most of it. In that case, it may be a good option.
- The Face to Face program. Thousands of West Virginia public employees with Type 2 diabetes keep their diabetes under control through a Public Health Insurance Agency program that pairs them up with a pharmacist who advises them about exercise, diet and good medication management. State employees and their families are eligible. PEIA waives co-pays for prescriptions and labs for participants.
- People who are not public employees can establish a relationship with their local pharmacist and ask for help as needed. This has been proven to be effective and most pharmacists are glad to help.
- Program description: https://www.peiaf2f.com/.
- For a list of qualifying providers, go to https://www.peiaf2f.com/DbResources.aspx and click on Participating Providers.
How can a community get started?
- What agency or people might naturally offer such classes? You will need two trained leaders for CDSM. One person for Walk with Ease or National Diabetes Prevention Program. They can be lay people, but must be trained.
- An excellent local goal: Get your own local people trained to offer these classes so you can offer them again and again. Look at employees of the senior center, library or other local agency that might see this as part of their mission. Classes have been offered at libraries, churches, schools, community health centers, fire halls and other public buildings. Between 2009 and 2013, the Bureau for Public Health funded CDSM trainings in West Virginia. In 2014, their federal funding was cut. Still, there are more than 200 trained leaders in West Virginia. Classes can be scheduled.
- Contact the programs listed above about scheduling a training. You may need to contact surrounding counties to get together enough people to bring a class to your area.
Learn more about West Virginia’s Chronic Disease Self-Management classes:
- Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chronic-Disease-Self-Management/103171089721203
- The Marshall University CDSM Web site: http://livewell.marshall.edu/SelfManagement
- Video that explains self-management classes:
- From Stanford University, where CDSM was created: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3Sz8kyHVwY
- National Council on Aging description of CDSM: https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/chronic-disease-facts/
- Research proves CDSM works: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11606875
Learn more about National Diabetes Prevention Program classes:
- These West Virginia agencies are authorized to offer these classes: https://nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_DPRP/City.aspx?STATE=WV&CITY=ALL
- Here’s a video about NDPP: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/features.htm
- Pocahontas doing a version of it: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wvmr/news.newsmain/article/1/0/1950148/AMR.Newsroom..and..Archive/Pocahontas.diabetes.program.got.early.start
Useful resources for diabetics:
- Assess your risk for prediabetes: http://www.wvdiabetes.org
- The American Diabetes Association Web site: http://www.diabetes.org/
- Heart 360: An online blood pressure control program: Here
- A lot of practical help here: http://win.niddk.nih.gov
- Guidelines for diabetes self-care:
- Also see the Try This diabetes coalition page
Have something to add to this page? Write it in “reply” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.
- Make it fun. In Jackson County’s Moovin and Groovin program, the walk mob invaded offices and kidnaps the staff for a 15-minute walk. “We tried to make it fun,” said Wendy Crawford, Jackson County health nurse. “We do a little bit of everything.”
- Friendly competition: In Williamson, teams of ten competed for six weeks to see who could “Walk to LA,” first. Teams came from businesses, offices, churches, schools, the hospital and neighborhoods. “The friendly competition was great,” organizer Vicki Lynn Hatfield said. “And once it was over, a lot of people kept on walking. It lasted long enough for people to build a habit.”
- Change it up. Every year in Morgantown, teams organize for the Hundred Miles in a Hundred Days competition. “We change the theme every year, so it’s never feels like you’re doing the same thing,” said former organizer Adam Flack.
- Include kids: “When kids get involved, their parents get involved too,” said Shepherdstown organizer Mark Cucuzzella. Every time there’s an adult run, there are kids’ fun-runs too, sometimes in costume.
- Keep it happening so people build a habit. Every month, Williamson’s running club and the Mingo Diabetes Association co-sponsor a community 5K. “When it’s every month, people do practice runs inbetween, so they can beat their own time,” said Alexis Batausa, 5K organizer. “Lots more people started running afer we started having 5Ks every month.”
- Give people discounts. The Jackson County Moovin’ and Groovin’ people created a card for members that gave them discounts at selected local stores. They also arranged a day when members could come into the local shoe store and get discounts on running shoes.
- Benefit the community. “We run events all year, and we donate a percentage of the proceeds of every event to charities,” said Sharon Marks, organizer for Parkersburg’s River City Runners and Walkers. “People like the feeling that their exercise is helping somebody.”
- Find successful programs and visit them. This Web site is full of examples.
- Be persistant. The “hundred miles” program, created by WVU Wellness, has run for more than 20 years in Morgantown. More than 5,000 people now participate. One-day events won’t help people establish a walking or running habit, organizer Adam Flack emphasized. “If you set it up so people walk over a period of weeks, there’s a much greater chance they’ll keep doing it after the challenge is over,” he said.
Looking for creative ways to draw people into walking?
- Try the Walk 100 miles in 100 days challenge. This is a 20-year-old trademarked program of the Wellness Program of WVU Hospitals, but they are glad to share. Each year, they adopt a different theme, so it’s different each year. Go to their site for lots of ideas. Want to adapt it for your area? Call (304) 293-2520.
- The Mingo County Diabetes Coalition adapted the 100 Miles in 100 Days Challenge. They call it The Healthy Feud, a healthy revival of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud.
- Here’s The Williamson “Lunchtime walk tool kit:” LunchWalk_ToolKit
- WVU Extension organizes a Summer Steps walking challenge to all counties. County teams compete with pedometers all summer.
- Try WVU Extension Service’s “Wild Wonderful Walking” packet. It gives you what you need to start a six-week walking program. It can be a stepping-stone to an ongoing program or an ongoing program can offer it.
- Mall walking: If your mall has no organized mall walking program, try to start one. Usually, a local hospital runs them. A few examples:
- Parkersburg SoleMates: Participants get discounts at some stores, based on miles walked, as well as blood pressure checks and talks by health professionals. Free cholesterol screening after 500 miles. Camden Clark Hospital runs the program at Grand Central Mall. http://www.camdenclark.org/CommunityConnection/Solemates.aspx
- Charleston Mall Walkers, run at Charleston Town Center by St. Francis Hospital: http://www.charlestontowncenter.com/info/mallwalkers
- Create historic walking tours: Fairmont’s MainStreet program created a wonderful historic walking tour with an online map, old photos and audio tour.
- Add a charitable component: River City Walkers and Runners (Parkersburg) gives part of the proceeds of every event to charity and raises money every year for running shoes for needy kids. “That’s a big part of why some people run,” said Sharon Marks, president. “They feel like they’re doing something for others while they get in shape.”
- Try Geocaching: Geocaching is create adult scavenger hunting. It can be planned to include considerable walking! You can give geocaches themes! Read about the Civil War geocaching course near Charleston, for instance. And check out this state parks page: www.wvstateparks.com/recreation/geocache.htm
- Winter walks: In Parkersburg, the Online Physical Activity Magazine sponsored a series of well-attended family-friendly winter hikes in 2013.
- The state park Web site www.wvstateparks.com/Hikes_Walks.html, lists a wide variety of walks that will give you ideas. Offer the walks as a series, to help people build a habit.
- Night walks: North Bend State Park
- Full Moon walks: Cass
- Fall foliage walks: Pipestem State Park, Canaan Valley Resort State Park
- Astronomy night walks: Blackwater Falls State Park
- Geology Walks: Pipestem State Park
- Bird walks: Tygart Lake State Park
- Longer hikes and camping hikes:
- Create educational walks: Historic walks and environmental informational walks:
- The nature signage on Laurel Fork Trail at Holly River State Park won a national award. http://www.americantrails.org/awards/CRT10awards/Laurel-Trail-Holly-State-Park-WV.html
- Here are instructions for creating a historical walking tour. If you search for “create a historic walking tour,” you can also find programs that help you create an app for your community.
- How walkable is your community? See the complete streets and walkability pages.
Have something to add? Write it in “reply” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.
Use the Web site for multi-year healthy lifestyle planning!
The Try This Web site is a menu of choices. It’s a tool for people who want to create a healthier community. The Try This checklist helps you review the possible choices on the Web site. It helps you choose activities that make the most sense for your community and prioritize them into a multi-year plan.
At the same time, the checklist helps you get an overview of what’s already been accomplished. After you compare checklists, you list and prioritize the projects people most want to tackle. You end up with a multi-year “to-do” list. It can become an “action” backbone for a long-range healthy lifestyle plan for your community.
Here are two different versions of the checklist. They are copyrighted, but we are glad to share them, as long as credit is given to Try This West Virginia.
Click on the blue name and the download-able checklist will come up. Be patient. It takes a few minutes:
(1) The community checklist is particularly handy for community teams or groups that are trying to come up with a long-range plan. Everyone on your team does the checklist. Then you compare lists.
2) The personal checklist makes it easy for people – students, community leaders, employees – to become informed about a wide range of options a community might choose.
As people go through the checklist, they also learn about a wide range of projects already being carried out in West Virginia. The process stirs hope and pride and fights the myth that “it can’t happen here.”
How to use the checklist:
* Download it into your computer. You can type on it, go through it at your own speed and make notes as you go.
* If you want more information, click on the item listing. A Try This page will come up, full of info and resources about ways to start/expand that activity. If you aren’t sure if an item is appropriate for your community, this is an easy way to find out more and see how other West Virginia communities are doing that activity.
* If you download the checklist, you can work on it awhile, save your comments and priority ratings, then pick up where you left off when you come back later.
Why do it?
* Community checklist: Going through the checklist puts you in better position to make choices that make sense for your community. This is a menu of possible choices that have worked elsewhere. Without such a list, you’re like a person being asked to order in a restaurant with no menu. Maybe there’s something you haven’t heard of that would be perfect for your community! This is a way to make sure you make informed choices.
* Making a long-range plan forces you to look beyond the immediate project to bigger, longterm goals. Instead of saying “We’re making a community garden,” you might think, “In a bigger sense, we’re increasing our supply of fresh food. We’re building a healthier community.”
In that sense, the person who’s helping start a running/walking group is working on the same goal as the person who’s helping create a farmers market. You’re all building a healthier community. So it helps for everyone who’s working on that big goal to meet together periodically to coordinate, prioritize, and celebrate progress on your community plan. And tweak it if necessary.
* Individual checklist/ Personal checklist. Students, professionals and interested people will be able to do healthy lifestyle planning more effectively and productively if they are acquainted with a wide range of options and resources. With the checklist, you can quickly and effectively acquire a broad view.
copyright Kate Long 2015
People who live in Williamson’s senior citizen apartments can raise vegetables in the community garden across the road. In Charleston, people with no garden space can now plant at more than a dozen community gardens, including a large garden that feeds the homeless. Huntington’s community garden group gives people gardening lessons.
“It’s about more than food. It’s about giving people a chance to grow food together and learn from each other,” said WVU Extension agent John Porter. Statewide, community gardens are spreading like weeds, organized by local groups and churches. People sign up for a plot, plant it, then harvest it.”
North Carolina State has compiled a list of research that shows that people who participate in community gardens are more likely to eat healthy diets. “It’s common sense,” Porter said.
Want to start or expand your community gardens? These links will help you:
The Manna Meal community garden in Charleston raised more than 3,000 pounds of produce for the soup kitchen!
- The American Community Garden Association: The American Community Garden Association has a wealth of useful information and resources. Check out their “Starting a community garden” page.
- The West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition: The WV Farm and Food Coalition can help you get acquainted with what other West Virginia communities are doing. This umbrella organization keeps up with what’s happening with small farms, gardens and fresh produce marketing in WV.
- Fresh ideas in action: videos from the WV Farm ad Food Coalition. Get glimpses of what other communities are doing: https://www.youtube.com/user/WVfoodandfarm/videos. See sample above!
How to build raised beds: a few good sources
*Eartheasy. Includes videos, great photos and detailed list of needed hardware.
* Sunset. This one also tells you how to install hoops for bird netting and cold-weather protection.
* Popular Mechanics. Careful detailed instructions and photos.
Learn about community gardening from other West Virginia communities:
- Let’s Move! Community Garden checklist. Highly recommented. https://letsmove.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/community-garden-checklist
- Community gardens that supply food kitchens or pantries:
- Charleston volunteers tend a large garden that produces more than 3,000 pounds of vegetables for the Manna Meal feeding program at St. Johns Episcopal Church. http://www.mannameal.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PIIN2lpq-s&feature=youtu.be
- In Charles Town, Jefferson Community Ministries combines their food bank with a community garden for participants. Bob Shefner, director: (304) 725-3186, email@example.com
Develop your own master gardener trainers:
- Master Gardener training More than 1,200 West Virginians have been trained as master gardeners in 33 counties. The program operates through WVU Extension. Classes have been conducted at community gardens. Master gardeners must perform community service each year to keep their certification, so some of them might be glad to help you. Contact your local extension office for information on classes or contacts with master gardeners in your area.
Junior Master Gardener training. Master gardening for kids. If kids are involved in your community garden, look into the possibility of a junior master gardener course.
Other valuable resources:
- Gardening for and by children: SCRATCH program (Huntingon) Sustainable Community Revitalization in Appalachia Through Children’s Hands. This afterschool project teaches children to grow food and to understand garden technology and entrepreneurship. Children sell the food they produce at local fresh food distributor.
- See their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/SCRATCHWV
The Kanawha Urban Ag Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/KUAAWV
- Charleston-based KEYS 4 Healthy Kids has sponsored school-based gardening projects in which kids worked on gardens together. http://keys4healthykids.com
- High tunnel community gardens: The Williamson Farmers Market is fed with fresh produce from a community high tunnel greenhouses operated in cooperation with Southern Community College. See high tunnel page.
- The American Horticultural Society has a lot of great resources on youth gardening, plants, and other subjects that arise once you get going.
- Here’s an article on libraries that host community gardens!
- Community garden guide from the U.S. Department of Agriculture: http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/mipmcot9407.pdf
- Here’s a guide to helping kids plant a community garden from the United Way: https://www.unitedway.org/the-latest/in-the-news/community-garden-provides-families-with-fresh-healthy-food
- This “how-to-do-it” site features organic gardening: http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/community-garden.htm
* Combine community gardens with food preservation classes. See the Try This food preservation page.
See these other Try This Pages:
Add a community high-tunnel garden, encourage home gardening year-round, support the farmers market.
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Almost every Thursday since 2009, Buckhannon residents have gathered at C.J. Maggie’s restaurant in Buckhannon for an affordable noon meal and a “Create Buckhannon” session. Anyone is welcome. As they eat, they plan ways to make their town healthier and more prosperous. “We’ve had 60 people, and we’ve had four people at the meeting,” facilitator C.J. Rylands said. “We just keep meeting. That’s the important thing. Usually, it will be about 25.”
“If somebody has an idea, we ask what the first steps would be,” Rylands said. “If someone wants to take those first steps, we set a date for them to report back. If nobody wants to take those first steps, we go on to the next thing. We go where the conversation takes us.
“It’s a very satisfying process,” he said. “We’re just citizens, not an official group or a 501(c)3,” he said. But they have coordinated the creation of a park, a weekly summer music festival and market, a city plan, various downtown improvements and safe biking and walking routes, among other things.
See the Create Buckhannon home page, with the slogan “Community volunteers enhance the quality of place.” http://www.createbuckhannon.com/
Participant Steve Foster, of the Upshur County Development Authority, says they decided to start with a couple of small, easily-achieved things. “That way, you get a reputation as a group that gets things done. When people see results, they get really excited. And small steps led to later steps.
To participate, “you don’t have to be involved with every project,” he said. “Pick something that’s near and dear to you and find a group of people who share that interest, and maybe we can help make it happen.”
Many projects are proposed over lunch, Rylands said. “Some go nowhere, but if there’s somebody who really cares about a project, they research it and report back, and maybe some other people join in, and we’ve got another project going,” he said.
The food is important, he said. “It draws people, and it creates an easy atmosphere. We’re breaking bread together, sharing ideas.”
Watch the Create Buckhannon video:
People in Huntington meet each Thursday after work for “Chat ‘n’ Chew”. Over snacks and wine or cider, they talk about what they can do to make the community a better place to live.
Chat ‘n’ Chew started in 2009. The conversations have led to a dog part, the West Virginia 5K race, a local foods distribution center, recycling clubs, an artwalk, Critical Mass bike rides, and a revitalized downtown area, among other things.
“It works,” said co-founder Tom McChesney. “Huntington didn’t have any place where people could have regular, great conversations about our community. Chat ‘n’ Chew changes that. It makes it a lot easier to get things going. And people are starting to see the possibilities. They’re starting to see the community’s assets.”
Chat ‘n’ Chew is one part of Create Huntington.
Here’s a newspaper story about Huntington’s Chat ‘n’ Chew.
Want to start a community conversation in your community?
- First, do some reading. These talks need a safe atmosphere, and somebody has to know how to create that. Get a feeling for the philosophy and facilitation techniques behind successful efforts in other places.
- “What are community conversations?” A roadmap that effectively lays out the basic steps and principals behind successful conversations. https://michaelhaupt.com/community-conversation-guide-a15d11fa37e3#.uhn389fnp
- Read the Create Buckhannon “Meet and Eat” guidelines. Meet and eat guidelines, Create Buckhannon
- Here are their “norms” for meetings, their civility rules. CBuckNorms
- Here is the role of the conversation facilitator.
Visit a community with a successful community conversation.
- Create Huntington’s weekly “Chat and Chew” sessions take place at 5:30 Thursdays. http://www.createhuntington.com
- Create Buckhannon’s list of achievements for its first few years is here. Every Thursday at noon. Contact Create Buckhannon: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sustainable Williamson: This broad collaboration of Williamson groups includes city government, the school system, businesses, the Diabetes Coalition, and many other groups. As Williamsonr Wellness Center administrator Darrin McCormick said, “Our goal is always the health and prosperity of the community, rather than the specific project we’re working on at the moment.” Find out about their wide range of projects at www.sustainablewilliamson.org
- West Virginia Center for Civic Life. Dedicated to civil community discussion: Lots of great info on community conversations: http://www.wvciviclife.org .
- Grafton’s All Aboard Grafton has been meeting for several years with wide representation from the community.
Here are some tips:
- Invite people from a wide variety of groups. “We don’t send out official invitations,” Rylands said. “We talk it up, and people come because they hear we’re doing things.” People come from the development group, city council come, the college and churches, business owners, a wide variety of groups and unaffiliated individuals.
- Get a local restaurant involved. Why is Create Buckhannon so successful? “One reason is food,” C.J. Rylands said. People meet at his restaurant, C.J. Maggie’s, at a huge table in a private room. He has a dish (with meat and without) ready for them, a $7 lunch, and they talk while they eat. “Lunch is a convenient time for most people, and food creates a good atmosphere.”
- Keep the conversation going online. Facebook, Web site, local papers, TV, whatever. Let the community know what the group is doing and talking about, however you can.
- Sign up for community development training. Blueprint community development training helps pull together a core group and provides you with a coach who can help you get going. See what various Blueprint communities are doing at http://wvhub.org/blueprint .
- Do you need to create an official group, a non-profit? No. You can, but you don’t have to. Create Buckhannon is proud not to be one. Sustainable Williamson is not one. “We’re just a bunch of volunteers who talk every week,” Buckhannon’s C.J. Rylands said.
“When we need an official group, we use the Redevelopment Authority or the health nonprofit,” Williamson’s Darrin McCormick said. But both groups have Web sites and facebook pages.
Here are resources to help create community conversations:
- Making the Healthy Choices. The six counties of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department held a series of “healthy county discussions.” They developed a fill-in form that can be very helpful in starting an ongoing conversation: http://ctfwvresources.com/docs/Making-the-Healthy-Choice.pdf
- “Creating a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation guide to making a healthy lifestyle plan for your community:” http://www.bridgingthegapresearch.org
- An overall look at the components of a successful community physical activity plan, based on the U.S. Physical Activity Plan, from General Mills: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ncppa/make_the_move/index.php#/22
- KEYS 4HealthyKids, a Kanawha County group focused on children, has a toolkit for community action at http://keys4healthykids.com/fivesteps/
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There’s a ton of stuff on this page! Bear with it. It’s all good stuff. Let’s start with three facts:
- Obese kids are at risk of future diabetes and heart trouble.
- Nearly one in three West Virginia fifth-graders are now obese. One in five has high blood pressure.
- Every major national medical group recommends an hour a day of physical movement/exercise, plus healthier diet.
How can schools help reverse the epidemic?
We don’t have time in the schedule, many principals say. But research shows that kids who are active do better, as a whole, in academics. New research shows that physically active kids literally have more dense white grey matter necessary to problem-solving.
Weave physical activity into class time! Check out these schools:
Sherman Elementary (Boone County): Use the school intercom to get kids moving!
- Each morning before class at Boone County’s Sherman Elementary, kids do aerobics in the hall and classrooms. The P.E. teacher, Jerry Halstead, gets on the intercom and leads them in a musical mini-workout. “It gets them ready to work,” he said. They teach nutrition, organized a jump rope program and built trails. “Kids have got their families exercising with them at home,” Halstead said.
Sutton Elementary (Braxton): Weave physical activity into class!
- At Sutton Elementary in Braxton County, first-grade teacher Susan Schiefer kept kids on their feet through language arts and math. Here, they’re dancing their way through a spelling exercise.
Kanawha Elementary (Wood): Exercise improves alertness, discipline
- Watch this video from Kanawha Elementary in Wood County of kids rocking the gym every morning from 7:30 to 8:00. The materials cost between $400 and $500. “Some teachers were skeptical at first,” said principal Mike DeRose. “After we started, they say the kids were more alert and better behaved.”
Every morning at 7:30, students at Kanawha Elementary rock the gym for a half hour. Watch this video to see them in action. Materials cost about $400.
Lenore K-8 (Mingo): Weaving physical activity through the day.
At Lenore K-8 School in Mingo County, principal Sabrina Runyon jiggered the schedule so every child got 18 additional minutes of recess after lunch every day, in addition to P.E. and regular recess. Teachers weave physical activity through class time too. As kids change class, they exercise in the halls. On Fridays, they get 90 minutes of dancing and gym as a reward for good behavior. Read about their program (scroll down) at https://theshapewerein.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/mingo-school-fitness-combined.pdf
In the Lenore pictures above:
- 1. Kindergartners doing modified yoga stretches.
- 2. and 3. Children running a vowel-consonant relay for spelling and language arts. They run to get letters, then form crosswords as a team.
- 4. and 5. Signs posted in the hallways uirge kids to, for instance, jump with an imaginary rope or squat three times.
- 6. In an upper-level language arts class, everyone squats at a wrong answer and jumps at a right answer.
- 7 – 9. For the last 90 minutes on Fridays, students who have less than three disciplinary marks for the week get physical activity as a reward: dancing, games in the gym, or timed running races, for instance.
Want to do it too? These resources can help you weave physical activity through the day.
- Active Academics: Bookmark this site! It was developed by West Virginians, and it’s full of actual activities and ways you can weave physical activity into subject areas during the elementary school day. The activities are correlated with grade level and Common Core Standards to help you weave them into the school day.
Let’s Move / Active Schools: full of exercises and ideas for all levels.
- “The Wellness Impact: Enhancing academic success through healthy school environments.” This is research ammunition you need to make your case for the positive impact of physical activity on academic achievement: the research, and the ideas.
- Go Noodle: A fabulously useful site for the teacher or parent who wants to keep kids oving in short bursts. The site is packed with short videos that get your kids up and rocking without a lot of fuss.
- Fuel Up to Play 60: This highly-rated program gives schools the resources to inspire kids to take charge of their own health. Students help run the program, sponsored by the National Dairy Council/ The National Football League is a co-sponsor. Students plan “plays” and carry out schoolwide nutrition and physical activity projects. Many free resources. Each school is eligible for up to a $4,000 grant for equipment and projects that last more than a year. Contact: Sharon.Maynard@drink-milk.com
- Example: Winfield High School used a Fuel Up grant to buy video equipment and made this great video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_OUujl17kE
The Healthy Schools program of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Many free materials and DVDs aimed at getting kids active and helping them understand food choices. More than 400 West Virginia Schools have signed up. Funded by the Bill Clinton Foundation and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. . West Virginia contact: Amy File: email@example.com.
- Jammin Minute videos. Go beyond just getting the kids dancing for a few minutes once a year!, They also offers a variety of great teacher resources, aimed at getting kids moving!
Wiggle Wednesdays are a tradition at Charleston’s Mary C. Snow West Side School. All the students get out in the hall and dance for 10-minute bursts to music played over the intercom. Costs nothing and promotes similar bursts inside individual classrooms on other days.
- Take Ten: Getting Kids Active 10 minutes at a Time. This program helps subject-area teachers weave physical activity into subjects like history, math and science, ten minutes at a time. Teachers can order programs for specific grades.
- Healthy Kids Hub. This is a terrific collection of activities, information and material sources. A project of Healthy Kids Out of School, sponsored by a wide variety of organizations dedicated to checking child obesity. Check it out! Watch the video to get started.
- WV Statewide Afterschool Network Programs are required to keep kids active for at least half the time they are in their care. Contact the state office for help making your program more active.
- Afterschool Energizers: Activities for your afterschool program that are correlated with content areas.
- Let’s Move WV: put together a great list of resources for schools that want to get kids more active. There are demos of various dances, activity ideas, programs, videos.
- Action for Healthy Kids is a national program with a West Virginia representative. They offer classroom physical activity toolkits of items like hula hoops and bouncy balls, activities, and small grants. Here’s their physical activity starter kit. Go for it!
- Spark is a nationally-praised physical education curriculum that is proven through research to work. Spark recently published an afterschool version. Some West Virginia programs are using it. It’s expensive as a whole, but it has components that cost less and are great! Their Spark Dance program, for instance.
- Free jump ropes and free jump rope curriculum from the Modern Woodsmen, see news article here. See Try This jump rope page. Also see the Jump rope and hoops for heart curriculum from Shape America.
- Playworks. A national company that has gotten considerable national attention and praise for its“structured recess” program .
- Promoting Healthy Activities Together (PHAT Program) from CANFIT, hip-hop exercise activities.
- A poster on the role schools can play, from Active Living Research.
- The Let’s Go! Web site, home of the 5-2-1-0 healthy living program for kids.
RESA Wellness Coordinators. They will to come to your school and help you make a plan. The state has bought a wide variety of DVDs, equipment and programs that are available to you to borrow. Find your coordinator at http://wvde.state.wv.us/healthyschools/section5/RegionalSchoolWellnessSpecialists.htm
How can I make the case to my school officials?
*WV Parents 4 Wellness is a network and website for connecting Parents, Teachers, and Advocates to wellness resources and support for strengthening school & community wellness. Check them out on Facebook too!!
* Show them examples from other West Virginia schools and suggest ways it can happen at your school.
* Show them the research that links physical activity to academic performance: Here’s an extensive list of research that points to that conclusion.
* And here’s another list of research, from Active Living Research.
* Go through the resources on this page and related pages to prepare yourself to make the argument.
* Try to get the superintendent’s support. In 2013, Mingo County Superintendent Randy Keathley decuded increased physical activity is one way to fight the impact of poverty. Eighty percent of Mingo County students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. “Research tells us, the lower the income, the worse children’s health and achievement is likely to be,” he said.
“Research also tells us one way we can fight that impact is to get them more physically active.” Physical activity isn’t the same as physical education, he emphasized . “It means you take every opportunity to get children moving. It can be recess or a classroom physical activity. It means you don’t let them sit for long stretches.”
Keathley added several sports to the afterschool program and designated a wellness coach for each school. “We’re determined to give these students a chance in life,” he said. “If you’re fit, you think more clearly and do better in school. There’s so much research on the subject, it’s not even a question. We just have to find ways to make it happen.”
How much physical activity does West Virginia law require now?
- Recess is not required. Physical education is limited. But a half-hour per day of physical activity is now required.
- Physical education: State law requires only three half-hour sessions a week for elementary children and 30 minutes a day for one semester for middle school kids (then no more for the rest of the year). Many middle schools collapse the requirement into 18 weeks of an hour a day, then none for the rest of the year. High school students must take one semester of physical education in four years. The rest of the time, most have none.
Physical activity: In June 2014, the state school board (Regulation 2510) passed a new regulation that requires that each child be physically active 30 minutes per day, in addition to physical education. Physical activity can be any activity that gets kids moving. They’re not just sitting. It can be before school, during class or recess, or coordinated with lunch hour. It can be monitored by trained volunteers.
What can a parent or community member do?
Come in with a helpful attitude: This Action for Healthy Kids video spells out the potential.
Create resources the schools can use. In Jefferson County, the community running group raises money to build running trails at the elementary schools by putting on regular events like this obstacle course event. Working together, community and schools are instilling a love of running in kids. Dr. Mark Cucuzzella of WVU Medical School is featured in this 2013 video of the Halloweeny Wee Warrior Dash by Cody Marsh, posted on Vimeo.
- Get on the school wellness council. Federal law requires every county to have one. They will be what people make them. They are a platform from which to operate. If your school doesn’t have one yet, tell the principal you want to help form one. Contact WV Parents 4 Wellness for assistance. Be positive. Have a list of what parent volunteers can do to help increase physical activity at the school.
- Go talk with the school superintendent, board members, and your principal. Before you go, become familiar with research that shows that exercise has a positive impact on academic achievement (see below).
- Be familiar with possible ways/times to weave physical activity into the day. Here is a helpful graphic from the Institute of Medicine:
- Offer to help round up volunteers to, for instance, lead games at recess. See recess post.
- Organize a group of concerned parents and citizens. Volunteer, sponsor events, raise money, and/or go to school board meetings to express your concerns and ideas. Make the issue visible. Here is the link to the playlist for a series of Webinars on parent advocates from Action for Healthy Kids.
- Raise money to buy resources like those listed above.
Partner with community groups and local businesses to fund sustainable physical activity projects. In Monongalia and Jefferson Counties, businesses sponsor schools and provide volunteers
- These Try This pages will all be helpful: Agitate for everyday recess, school walking/ running trails, school run-for-fun program, dancing, hula hoops and other fun stuff, Health class: Teach kids how food (and physical activity) affect them