Coalition awards $80,000 to communities

A statewide coalition to promote healthy lifestyles has awarded thousands of dollars in grants to 20 groups — double the amount anticipated.

Try This, part of the Our Children, Our Future campaign, gave the money to help projects such as bicycling clubs, hiking trails and fitness classes that aim to build healthier communities. In all, 42 grants were awarded, totaling $80,000.

“These teams are proving you don’t need a lot of money to start a creative project that makes your community a healthier place,” said Stephen Smith, Try This co-chairman.

Representatives from the 42 projects attended the Try This conference in June. There, they had the opportunity to network and learn how to write grants. Teams were challenged to develop solid projects they could implement for $3,000 or less. Those ideas further generated buzz within the local community.

“The Hendricks town council members have been around awhile, but when they heard we got our grant, they got excited and started talking about ways to get gravel and wheelbarrows and other things we could do,” said April Miller of the Tucker County Family Resource Center.

A coalition of 20 statewide public and private groups have teamed up to support the Try This initiative and fund the grants. Projects include everything from playgrounds to community gardens to food pantries. A project in Jackson County will survey trails in the area, create a trail guide and promote hiking.

“We can do a lot with a little,” said Wendy Crawford, a public health nurse and Jackson’s team leader. “If we get just a little bit for each project, we’ll make it happen. When you hear so many resources and ideas and you have people to help you, you just want to add another project and another project.”

In the month following the conference, several more community groups have formed, such as the Lewis County Wellness Council, Mt. Hope on the Move and Try This Monongalia County. Each team already has started several projects.

The Logan team, which is reviving basketball teams and gardening in the area, has asked the Logan County Chamber of Commerce to match its grant.

“It’s incredible to see such a diverse group of people, including young people, coming together to make a healthier community,” said team leader Lida Shepherd.

A full list of projects and ideas for future projects is listed at www.trythiswv.com.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

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