GILBERT, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Center of Excellence in Women’s Health (CoE) will hold its second annual Women on Wellness (WOW) program in Mingo County from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, at the Larry Joe Harless Community Center.

WOW is a one-day, interactive program designed to inspire women to make positive lifestyle choices through an atmosphere of joy and personal empowerment. The program’s ultimate goal is to assist women in Southern West Virginia in leading healthier lives, while providing a safe and nonjudgmental environment that is fun and provides necessary behavior changing tools and guidance.

“We do not need expensive technology, we just need some help and support in taking our first step to good health habits,” said Cheryl Mitchem, executive director of the Larry Joe Harless Community Center. “The event will offer a full day of lifestyle enrichment, including a nutritious breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack.”

After registration, the day begins with health screenings and a healthy breakfast. Health screenings such as blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and body mass index checks will be offered, and organizer Betty Critch hopes to add bone density scans and electrocardiography (EKGs) as well.

Critch, executive director of the WVU CoE, noted that healthy lifestyles are the best preventive medicine for many chronic diseases, and targeting women makes sense. She recalled the words of Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations, speaking about women’s health: “When women are fully involved, the benefits can be seen immediately. Families are healthier; they are better fed; their income, savings and retirement go up. And what is true of families is true of communities, and eventually, of whole countries.”

Participants work through a guidebook,  choose to experience three types of movement from a list that includes, among others, Zumba, aquatics, step aerobics, tai chi and line dancing. Education sessions will include topics such as nutrition, heart health, stress reduction and fiscal fitness for women.  

Lunch will feature keynote speaker Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., dean of the Marshall University School of Medicine.  

Throughout the day there will be guest appearances by Choosy, West Virginia University Extension’s ambassador for promoting healthy habits for children.
Each attendee will leave the event with a guidebook and a personal wellness plan, plus a renewed commitment and motivation to continue the process she has started.

Co-sponsors of the event include the Larry Joe Harless Community Center, the Town of Gilbert, Southern West Virginia Health Systems, Southern West Virginia Community College and a host of other area leaders.

To register for the event, call the Larry Joe Harless Community Center at 304-664-2500.

To learn more about WOW retreats, visit
For more information: Leigh Limerick, Communications Specialist, 304-293-0676
lal: 05-14-13