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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






  1. HI, I would like information on how participate in your event as a representative of the Center for Excellence in Disabilities’ Specialized Family Care Program. Please feel free to get in touch me at any of the following:
    Debra Geiger-Cone
    Family Based Care Specialist
    Specialized Family Care Program
    West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities (WVU-CED)
    C/o Randolph County DHHR
    1027 N. Randolph Ave.
    Elkins, WV 26241
    Tel: 304-637-5560 Ext: 2066
    Cell: 304-680-2475

    • Debbie, so glad you’re interested! You can register by going to the Try This conference square on this Web site. If you have other questions, please let me know at See you there!

  2. how can I register to log in ?

    • You don’t have to log in to comment or look at anything on the Web site, Barbara. You may also want to join our facebook page, Try This West Virginia. To join that, you just click the “join” button. Glad to have you with us.

  3. What a great collection of community experience and scientific evidence pointing the way to a healthier WV! It’s taken me a very long time to visit this web page. But I finally made it and I’ll be back.

    • Thank you, Dan. We are constantly amazed by what people can do with a few thousand dollars. It’s that determination to create a healthier community for kids to grow up in and adults to grow old in.

  4. Hello,

    I will be moving to Morgantown in a few months and I was wondering if you know of any “food Rescue” programs that collect extra food from restaurants/school cafeterias etc. that would otherwise be thrown out, and deliver it to organizations that are in need?

    Thanks very much,

  5. I need the application for the mini grant for our organization, The Ballengee Farm Club and Neighborhood Association in order to be ready for the webinar

    • Sheila, look on the minigrant page of the Web site. You’ll find the application there, also the list of minigrants that have gotten funded!

    • Sheila, you can find the application and a recording of the Webinar at, the Web site minigrants page! Let us know if you have questions after you look them over!

  6. I attended my first Try This West Virginia conference . Believe me, I will be returning. There were so many valuable workshops going on. It was difficult for me to select one. Actually,I wanted to attend all of them. The ones that I did attend were very informative to me. The ideas,options,and suggestions that were offered during the sessions made a world of a difference to me. I was very eager to return to the Weirton Christian Center and give the information that I had received. I wish more of us could have attended. The participants, the presenters were all great. I met some very interesting people that were doing great things. As a new AmeriCorps Vista Member, I was in awe of many of the projects that were done in our fair state. I applaud the efforts of all of the people that put forth a tremendous effort to make the conference successful. From the staff to the young man that was filming and interviewing various persons during the conference. Kudos to everyone.

  7. Would you be willing to let me read the sub text in the Try This Checklist?
    I can see the checklist and the items in the checklist but
    For example, am unable to read the Description of “Create Regular Community Conversations”.
    The webpage asked for a password to access at that level.
    Thanks for considering, Tricia Lally

    • Hello Tricia, I’m not sure what is going on there, you should be able to either click on the link or ctrl+click to follow the link. All of the checklist links direct you to a page on the website to read more information on the topic. The “Create Regular Community Conversations” link should take you to Hope this helps.

  8. Would like information on how the Vienna Lions Club can assist with on-going projects in Vienna, WV (next to Parkersburg).

    • Hello Bob, the best way to find out and get involved with new and existing projects in your area is to register to come to the conference. There will be a ton of people/leaders from your community with plans for new projects or people looking to partner with others and brainstorming ideas for projects. Make sure to register. Hope to see you there!!!

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