In 2014, community partners, business advocates, and private investors gathered with the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) to address the fact that West Virginia is struggling with heart disease, diabetes, short life expectancy, drug abuse, and obesity. These public and private partners worked together to support the creation of a non-profit organization, focused on improving those statistics and assisting local communities to improve their health, increase their activity, and becoming a model for active living.
The NRGDA helped launch Active Southern West Virginia in Fall of 2014. As a non-profit serving a regional initiative, Active SWV will work to motivate area residents, businesses, schools and local governments to lead healthy and active lifestyles that will attract new businesses, tourism and generate a healthier workforce. In partnership with industries, families, schools, government administrators, businesses and their employees as well as healthcare professionals, Active SWV will advocate for southern West Virginians who deserve an attractive and vibrant place to live where safe opportunities to walk, run, dance, bike, and work out abound. A happy and healthy community will attract new businesses and jobs. Active SWV’s overall goal is to improve the health of all southern West Virginians by providing opportunities for active lifestyles. This goal will help diversify our region’s economic development by attracting businesses that are looking for a community where living a healthy, active lifestyle is a priority.
Five objectives the organization has set forth are:
- Establish Community Captains: Wellness is a personal matter, and we hope to make those personal decisions easier for community members by increasing their options to join groups they’re most comfortable with. Coworkers, neighbors, classmates, and family are often those who can provide the support and motivation people need to get moving and stay active. Community Captains will motivate and lead their neighbors and friends in living an active and healthy lifestyle. Become a Community Captain
- In School Programing: Our youngest community members are not only the key to our future, but also the ones who bring fresh, fun, new ideas about how to get active. We want to make sure our youth are being exposed to healthy eating options, choices to live well, and that their ideas are being heard. That’s why we’ll work with the region’s elementary schools to create and promote more effective exercise activities as well as improvements to nutritional programs. Suggest a School
- Organize and Promote Events: There are so many wonderful events and activities already taking place in Southern West Virginia. Active Southern West Virginia wants to use their position to help promote involvement in these activities, attract people from outside the region for adventure tourism, and remind West Virginians that there’s always something to do where they live. Suggest an Event
- Advocate for Infrastructure: We understand that without infrastructure active lifestyles are difficult. We’ll be advocating for infrastructure improvements so that walkers, runners, and bikers have a safe environment in which to exercise outdoors.
- Raise Awareness: Raise awareness among area businesses and community leaders to the importance of an active lifestyle for increasing economic activity and job creation.
For more details about what Active SWV is up to, and how you can help, check out their website at www.ActiveSWV.org