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Change the future WV.

In 2009, West Virginia received one of 44 grants awarded nationwide through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to reduce obesity and obesity related chronic disease by implementing policy, systems and environmental change interventions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded a two-year grant of $4.5 million to the WV Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) to target obesity prevention in a six-county region of the Mid-Ohio Valley through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative. The WV initiative, entitled Change the Future WV, was designed to improve nutrition/dietary behaviors and increase physical activity through a number of regional and local strategies. A partnership was formed with the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department (MOVHD) to implement the project in Calhoun, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood counties. Our evaluation partner is the West Virginia University (WVU) Health Research Center.

Below are some examples of accomplishments:

* Healthy checkout aisles have been established in area WalMart and Foodland grocery stores as well as in-store promotion of fresh fruits and vegetables (FFV) including FFV tastings.

* A jurisdiction-wide policy was enacted by the MOVHD to encourage placement of FFVs in convenience stores. Food permit costs were reduced or eliminated based on convenience stores' efforts to make FFVs available.

* Three new farmers markets were established. A jurisdiction-wide policy was implemented to waive the cost of a food permit for all farmers' market vendors.

* Nine local organizations developed policies related to increasing the number of healthy food choices at their concession stands.

* Additional physical education (PE) teachers were hired in 14 secondary schools and all teachers in the region were trained in techniques for providing quality PE.

* The MOVHD hired a contractor to document all trails in the sixcounty region (existing or under development). A trail report was compiled for each county. This information was used to identify trail signage needs, to plan for new trails, and to determine how to connect existing trails.

* County coalitions were awarded funds to improve the physical activity environment by: (1) improving trails, (2) installing fitness equipment on trails, and (3) installing new and improved playground equipment for youth.

* In addition to changes to the environment, several communities, businesses, and organizations have passed policies to push for sustainable change. Such policies include: (1) complete streets policies in several towns with local parks and organizations agreeing to host physical activity events, (2) county land use and sidewalk improvement resolutions, (3) agreements with WVU Extension to provide healthy lifestyles workshops at farmer's markets, (4) agreements with organizations to allow the use of facilities and outdoor recreational opportunities to community members, (5) the establishment of a city bicycling advisory board, and (6) the institution of flexible time for physical activity and staff wellness programs at places of employment.

* All six counties held connectivity forums to determine how to proceed with new development to allow access to existing sidewalk and trail infrastructure including ways to link pedestrians and cyclists to major destinations.

Joe Barker, MPA

Director, Office of Community Health Systems and Health Promotion and Principal Investigator, Change the Future WV WV Bureau for Public Health

Data provided by the West Virginia University Health Research Center
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Title Annotation:West Virginia Bureau for Public Health NEWS
Author:Barker, Joe
Publication:West Virginia Medical Journal
Geographic Code:1U5VA
Date:May 1, 2012
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