CHARLESTON - More than 20 organizations and 350 West Virginians who hope to help create a healthier West Virginia will join forces at West Virginia Wesleyan in Buckhannon Friday and Saturday at the first statewide Try This
"We're all tired of seeing West Virginia on top of the worst health lists, so we're joining forces to do something about it," said conference chair Stephen Smith, who also directs the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition.
Fifty community teams are coming from 44 counties, Smith said.
"They're coming to trade ideas, inspire each other and build a grassroots network. This is about local action."
The conference is sponsored by a coalition of 20 public and private organizations, ranging from the West Virginia Office of Child Nutrition and Bureau for Public Health to the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, West Virginia University Extension and West Virginia on the Move.
"We've all decided it's time for us to work together," said Rick Goff, director of the Office of Child Nutrition. "We'll have a lot more impact that way."
"We face a situation in which one in four of our 11-year-olds have high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol and one in three is obese. Communities all over the state are trying to do something about it. It's time for us to work together," said Laura Dice, project coordinator of KEYS 4HealthyKids.
Create Buckhannon will be featured at the conference in the opening session and in special sessions on the value of regular community conversations and affordable parks.
Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Laura Meadows helped create a variety of activities around the conference, including a Healthy Country Roads Cookoff that will culminate in a final cookoff at Jawbone Park Friday evening.
"Buckhannon is excited to have hundreds of people come to our town for the conference. This is also an opportunity for people that normally don't come to Buckhannon to eat and shop at the many special places we have to offer - it's a great way to highlight our entire community," said Laura Meadows, executive director of the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Conference attendees will launch a statewide physical activity network and brainstorm a statewide campaign for healthy cooking, among other things. There will be 30 how-to breakout sessions packed with local success stories, ranging from creation of farmers markets and school-based health centers, running and bicycling groups to the positive impact of healthy lifestyle programming on economic development.
Community teams will be eligible to apply for more than $50,000 in mini-grants for healthy local projects.
The overall Try This project also includes an extensive website www.trythiswv.com, designed to help West Virginians create healthier communities and highlight their successes. For more extensive information on the conference, visit www.trythiswv.com/