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2019 saw 17 new healthy-community projects. Search your county to see what your neighbors accomplished!

Active for Life, Healthy for Life
Active for Life, Healthy for Life
Nan’s Garden Extension
19-20 Putnam Paddling
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19-20 Marcu Terrace_Kids Collage Fruit T
19-20 Music11370050885_Yoga1
19-20 Putnam Paddling 2
19-20 Marcum Terrace Kids Debbie Hon Col
19-20 Lincolngarden104216869_10158564494
19-20 FunRaiser44431620_263408384360961_
19-20 Copy _fresh produce 2
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Click the arrows at left and right to see pictures from 2019-2020 projects



Try This Huntington:

The Marcum Terrace Family Resource Center serves more than low-income 280 homes and approximately 600 residents and community members. Food insecurity and substance abuse disorder are widespread issues. The Center serves all age groups, from babies to seniors. This Try This grant pays for a sound system that will be used for afterschool programming, special events and weekly healthy activity promotions. Partners include: United Way of the River Cities , Cabell Huntington Hospital , Facing Hunger Food Bank, Aetna Better Health of WV, UniCare, Mountain State Healthy Families, Cabell Huntington Health Department, Target, Tri- State Literacy and Valley Health Systems.

Project Lead: Shane Randolph.



Active for Life, Healthy for Life:

In a 2019 survey, Clay Middle School students said they want cooking classes and opportunities for intramural / outdoor activities that do not require a student to “make the team.” This Try This grant pays for those classes: archery, fishing, yoga, hiking, disc golf and mountain biking are healthy alternative activities that are free/affordable and be practiced for life. The club will purchase two more mountain bikes, fishing gear, and yoga mats and will pay for yoga leadership training in Yoga EQ. Dinner and transportation home are provided and participation data will be collected. Partners include the Outdoor Adventure Club and SADD clubs at Clay Middle School, the Clay County Family Resource Network, Clay County Health Department, WVU Extension Agency for this project.

Project Lead: Melinda Samples,


Nutter Fort Elementary:

About 200 Nutter Fort 4th and 5th-grade students will learn how to grow microgreens and container gardens, using grow stations and grow lights.  They will use the Junior Master Gardeners Learn, Grow, Eat & Go curriculum, with the help of the WVU Extension Health Educator.  Microgreen stations will be set up. In winter, plants will be grown in large containers for transplant. Students will learn how to grow part of their own family’s food, with and without grow lights. They will also learn the nutritional benefits of eating fresh produce.  At the end of the program, students can take a small container garden home. Parents/ guardians will learn about the program in a Family Fun Night. Pre and post-program assessments will be taken. Partners: Nutter Fort Intermediate, WVU Extension Service, Community volunteer, Kasson Elementary, Parent Teacher Volunteer.

Project Lead: Jennifer Martin,


CVT High Tunnel:

The new high tunnel located on the Camp Virgil Tate property will provide healthy lifestyle nutrition and gardening education to at least 500 students, focusing on students age 9 – 18, who will visit the high tunnel on educational field trips. The Try This project will support the establishment of the program, which will be staffed by an AmeriCorps member, engage 10 Master Gardener volunteers and five 4H volunteers in at least 150 community service hours. At least 500 students will sample produce grown in the high tunnel, and the project will host at least five youth programs and two adult educational programs.  The program staff and volunteers will raise $500 in in-kind donations to support the high tunnel through a Farm-to-Table dinner and other means. Project Partners: Kanawha County 4-H Foundation, Marshall VISTA Program, WVU Family Nutrition Program, Kanawha County Master Gardener Association, Capitol Conservation District.

Project Lead: Jason Young,

Nan’s Garden Extension:

Café Appalachia is a community café supported by sliding-scale, farm-to-table, from-scratch meals served to the general public. The Café is also a job employment training program for people in long-term drug recovery who learn culinary skills on the job. The café’s outside eating area is surrounded by Nan’s Garden, where much of the food served at the Café is grown, The Try This grant will help build an addition to Nan’s Garden where gardening classes and training will be provided, to increase the Café volunteer base and lead to Farm-to-Table tours and lunch for K-12. Partners: Pollen8, Inc. DBA Cafe Appalachia, Step by Step, West Virginia Farm & Food Coalition, KISRA, Kanawha County Master Gardeners Club, West Virginia State University Extension Office, Robert C. Byrd Institute.

Project Lead: Danielle Justice.


SJMH Healthy Living Campaign:

Lewis County scores very low on Robert Wood Johnson health assessments. Our Try This grants are step-by-step efforts to build a healthier environment in our county seat. Past Try This grants have helped build several playgrounds; planted an urban orchard; and provided elevated gardens for elderly high rise residents. We now have a monthly Walk/Run, inspired by Try This. In 2020 we will build on all these projects with a Healthy Living Campaign involving three sets of free wellness classes lasting 5 – 6 weeks each throughout the year. First, we will have a Walk / Run on the hospital walking path, combined with a physical education. Other classes will focus on nutritious, affordable eating and, especially, diabetes prevention. Pre- and post-assessments will be conducted and the hospital will donate free labs, to track changes over time. Project partners: Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, Pace Yourself Lewis County, Sodexo, The Lewis County Health Department, Young Riders 4-H.

Project Lead: Julia Spelsberg.


Healthy Eating, Healthy Futures:

The Step by Step Afterschool Program will bring together 10 multi-generational teams composed of 10 adults and 10 teens from the Big Ugly Creek area of Lincoln County and the west side of Charleston, WV for four on preparing a tasty, fast, inexpensive, but healthy meal. Participants will receive bags with the meal ingredients so that they can prepare the same meals for their families at home. The programs will incorporate physical activities facilitated by a Chief Logan Rec Center staffer. The program will also offer healthy cooking as part of the summer program teen track in both locations. Program participants will be asked to help facilitate at least one session, using the train-the trainer method. Participants will develop a resource notebook and cookbook as a foundation for future programming. Partners: Big Ugly Community Center; Afterschool Coordinator, Chapmanville Middle School; Grow Appalachia, Logan County’ Step by Step; Chief Logan Rec Center; Risen City Church; WVU Extension.

Project Lead: Marta Pate,


Harvest Savers:

Grow Appalachia is a dynamic regional model for encouraging families to return to growing part of their own food. In 2018-19, at the Lincoln and Logan sites coordinated by Step by Step, 70 families raised over 80,000 tons of vegetables. Due to shortage of funds, current program sites are at capacity with the number of gardeners they can assist. The Try This grant enables Step by Step to identify at least 20 single parents and kinship guardians who would like to be part of the program. They will be paired with experienced gardeners to participate in the Grow Appalachia program outlined at . The single parents and kinship caregivers will be connected with other needed area resources. Where babies and toddlers are involved, parents will be provided with mini food processors to encourage them to make their own baby food. Partners include: Logan County Grow Appalachia; Lincoln County Grow Appalachia; Logan community members, Lincoln County community members, Tri-County Volunteer Center; Step by Step; WVU Extension.

Project Lead: Bea Sias,


Project Face Lift:

The town of Blacksville is working on a step-by-step plan to create a healthier environment for our citizens in a distressed area of the county. The Try This grant will let us kick off the next stage: a sidewalk connectivity effort. The town council, community organizations and local churches plan to connect a 300-foot section of sidewalk between Bell’s Grocery and Roberts Run Bridge, to encourage students to walk to school at Clay-Battelle High School and improve senior citizen walkability. No sidewalk now exists in this section of town. The new sidewalk will connect with existing sidewalks in the main part of town. We will create a how-to guide for other community groups that want to make productive partnerships with faith-based partners. Partners: Town of Blacksville, Monongalia County Prevention Coalition, WV Caring.

Project Lead: Bryan Kelly,


The Fun Raiser Urban Mobile Playground:

Created for kids, by kids, the Fun-Raiser Urban Mobile Playground holds regular safe, trauma-informed “Play Stops” in low-income neighborhoods and schools in the Wheeling area. The Fun Raiser was initially made possible by a Try This WV grant! It is now a $65,000 program that has gained state and national attention for creating a new way for a community to respond to child trauma, mental health needs, and substance prevention through trauma-informed play is designed that include five key principles: safety, trustworthiness, free play choice, collaboration, and empowerment. The Fun-Raiser was conceived by a group of local low-income visionary youth whose poverty-stricken families could not afford toys and safe play areas. These youth banded together and formed their own board – called “The Never Bored Board” During the summer 2020 schedule, The Fun-Raiser had 84 play stops. The rest of the year The Fun-Raiser is at schools, and community events, playing with over 2000 children a year. This Try This grant will help the program establish a headquarters for Never Bored board headquarters and toy storage, now in trailers all over town. The space will also be used for classes and volunteer recruitment.  Project partners: The Never Bored Board, WVU Prevention Research Center, Discount Building Supplies, Grow Ohio Valley, Retired Teacher-Volunteers.

Project Lead: Kate Marshall,

Samaritan House Garden:

The Samaritan House is a youth shelter in East Wheeling run by Youth Services System (YSS) that houses at-risk boys, ages 12-17 during crisis periods. Boys at the Samaritan house already have some activities like field trips and weekly stops from the Fun-Raiser urban mobile playground. This project will add gardening. Grow Ohio Valley will build a garden outside the Samaritan house with two raised beds, one herb garden, and supply tools necessary to maintain it. In partnership with the Fun Raiser, Grow Ohio Valley staff will train Samaritan House residents and staff on planting, garden maintenance, and harvesting with the goal of self-sufficiency. Residents will maintain the garden and harvest produce. When possible, cooking classes will be included.  Partners: Samaritan House, Grow Ohio Valley, the Fun-Raiser Urban Mobile Playground.

Project Lead: Hannah Hedrick,


Afterschool STREAM program:

The Hometown Elementary School staff is dedicated to providing students with a safe place to be during after-school hours, four days a week, with after-hours tutoring, physical activity, math and art activities. Four staff members will provide an activity one day a week. The program aims to instill healthy-lifestyle habits and model the same for children. We will also provide a healthy meal for each student who attends our programs and hold a family involvement activity at least once a month. The Try This grant will pay part of the teacher stipends and purchase materials for grant activities. Partners: Hometown Elementary, Putnam County Schools, WV State Extension, Hometown Independent Mission.

Project Lead: Barbara “Tootie” Black,

Garden-Based Learning with a High Tunnel:After six years of teaching elementary students how to grow their own food in a hightunnel garden, harvest it safely, taste it (first time for many), sell it to the BOE and consume it fresh in their school cafeteria, the GBL receives numerous requests for help in duplicating the program at other schools. The Try This grant will allow the staff to travel to/ consult with at least four schools and hold all-staff meetings at at least two of those schools. In addition, the staff will provide at least one in-person consultations at the eight schools with established GBL programs. The staff will develop, analyze and distribute results of a teacher/staff survey to guide creation of new training sessions. Project Partners: Sustainable Integrated Systems Transforming Agriculture, SISTA/VISTA, WVU Extension Service-Family Nutrition Program, WVU Extension Service SNAP-ED coordinator, WVU Extension Service Agriculture & Natural Resources, SISTA/GBL with a High Tunnel, WVU Extension Service Families & Health.Project Lead: Chuck Talbott.

Putnam County Paddle Club:

This team has committed to offer paddling as an after-school activity to each Putnam County school, reaching about 2,000 students. In the fall, the team will teach fundamentals of safe paddling in kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards. In spring, students will learn paddling skills and have an opportunity to participate in river cleanup. Students will have a chance to race against each other at the Putnam County Paddlefest, then go head-to-head against paddlers from each other school. The Winfield SADD program will participate with “Trade the Toke for the STOKE!” Students will receive information about a variety of paddling events they and their families can participate in. The Try This grant will pay for a full range of life jackets and an over-sized Stand-up Paddleboard. Team Partners: Appalachian Boarding Company, Regional Family Resource Network, Putnam Wellness Coalition, City of Winfield, Rivers to Ridges Heritage Trail.Project Lead: Evan Young,


Walk This Way:

Walk This Way Summers County walking clubs began with two schools in 2018 with the help of a Try This WV grant, which mainly funded transportation to state and national parks in the area.  This year, they will build and pave a safe walking trail at Talcott Elementary and add a club and trail at Jumping Branch Elementary. They will take each school group on at least one hiking field trip. The group will increase the walking time for each school by at least 30 minutes per week. They will develop a how-to guide for other school systems interested in creating walking clubs. Project Partners: Summers County Public Schools, Summers Middle School, Talcott Elementary, Jumping Branch Elementary, WVU Extension Summers/Monroe Health Educator, Bluestone State Park, Bluestone State Park, New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River, Gauley National Recreation Area, Pipestem State Park, Summers Middle School.

Project Lead: Linda Knott,


Hope Grows:

The Hope Grows Greenhouse and community garden sits on Department of Agriculture land. The Hope Grows mission is to provide fresh produce and growing education to individuals and families in our community. The second is to create a network of different organizations both corporate and non profit working together to end hunger. The Try This grant would allow Hope Grows to add a hydroponic system to their offerings  CRI is partnering with PATCH 21, which already as a hydroponic setup. The Try This minigrant would be used to buy materials to create the system.  The Hope Grows staff will demonstrate the system to low-income clients and show them how they can create their own system at home.  Volunteers from Recovery Point will maintain the system. The aim is to produce hydroponic food for distribution to food pantries and teach people how to make their own system.  Project Partners: United Way Alliance of the Mid- Ohio Valley, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, Recovery Point Parkersburg, Rural King, PATCH21, AmeriCorps Lifebridge, Huntington Bank Foundation, WV Department of Agriculture, Civic Leaders (Parkersburg Area Community Foundation), Little Kanawha RC&D.

Project Lead: Kayla Ersch,

Mindful WV, College Edition:

This grant request will support certification of the WVU Parkersburg Wellness Coordinator in Mindfulness/Yoga Techniques. Ms. Santer will train faculty teaching two of WVU Parkersburg’s entry-level courses in mindfulness techniques. All students must take these courts. She will also train staff and student workers who serve in the Riverhawk Tutoring Center in mindfulness techniques. The Try This grant will help create a Zen Den, a relaxation space for students. It will buy an iPad loaded with applications and music for use in training and the Zen Den, that will be used to create a social media campaign. This mini-grant helps take the first steps toward Mindfulness WVU Parkersburg. The long term goals include training front line staff, including professional academic advisors, student support services staff, career services staff and others who work directly with students. This is a beginning.      Project Partners: WVU Parkersburg, Community Resources – Mindfulness WV, WVU School of Public Health WV Prevention Research Center, WVU Parkersburg.

Project Lead: Pamela Santer,

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