During a conference at The Resort at Glade Springs Monday, Change the Future WV shared the progress they have made promoting healthy eating and exercise in Mid-Ohio Valley counties, success they hope other counties will adopt as part of the West Virginia’s Community Transformation Grant.

Since 2010, Change the Future WV has been promoting healthy eating and physical activity in Calhoun, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood counties by starting or expanding local farmers’ markets, offering fresh fruits and veggies in convenience stores, increasing physical activity and fresh foods in schools, providing health options in concession stands during youth sporting events, and developing walking and biking trails.

Moderator Ilene Barker explained that the conference offered a “menu of ideas to take into your community.”

Panelists discussed the importance of getting passionate locals who know the community to head initiatives.

They also pointed out that it was important not to talk down to the community. Instead of telling people how to eat, providing education and health options were steps that worked, they said.

And finally, “start small. There are inexpensive options that make a big difference, like offering healthy alternatives in concession stands,” she said.

Attendees received packets of information, including sample memorandums of agreements and pledges to help kick-start change in other communities, not by changing behaviors, but by changing polices and systems and creating environments that promote exercise.

By mid-September, Change the Future WV will have a downloadable Community Guide and Online Resource Center for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity.

The guide will be available at www.changethefuturewv.org.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative granted $4.5 million to the Mid-Ohio Valley Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Strides made under this grant, as well as Change the Future WV itself, will be rolled into the Community Transformation Grant awarded to West Virginia last September.

The Transformation grant allots $1.8 million per year for the next five years to build infrastructure and support for community policies, environments and systems that support healthy living.