by DJ Conley, RN
It is no secret that Southern West Virginia has its struggles with health. With rates of obesity, food disparity, and inactivity at an all-time high, it seems that the Sword of Damocles seems to be hanging over our heads. These are issues that we have been fighting for a long time. However, there have been new strides in combating these hazards. Wild, Wonderful and Healthy Logan County has acted against these health disparities and continues to work with a mission to improve health in the county.
Wild, Wonderful and Healthy Logan County is a branch of Wild, Wonderful and Healthy West Virginia. Our goal, as a group, is the make Logan County a healthier place by implementing policy, system and environmental changes that develop ways to further facilitate healthy living in the county. This is not always easy and cannot be done by one person. It takes a team of passionate people who desire the need for change in their county, and work fluidly together to ensure that change is implemented.
There are quarterly meetings held involving our “CHI” (Community Health Improvement) Committee. This is a committee comprised of community members who would like to make their home a healthier place. Many in attendance are business owners, local political figures, healthcare workers, and other organizational workers like PRIDE. Together, the committee brainstorms and develops an Action Plan that will be implemented throughout the year. The meetings are held quarterly to ensure that the Action Plan is being followed, and that progress is being made. Wild, Wonderful and Healthy Logan County has, fortunately, had great success so far in implementing change.
One of the first projects completed by the group was a project called “Way to Go H2O!” This project spreads awareness on choosing water over sugary beverages. A video presentation, about 6 minutes long, is presented to students in schools throughout the county that details the importance of drinking water; it even goes into detail about healthy sources of drinking water, the harmful effects of soda, and the long-term benefit of drinking water. After the students complete the video and take a post-survey, they are given their very own customizable water bottle! They can use this at one of the refillable water stations that were installed in schools, another project by the organization, or they can fill them up at home and take them wherever they might choose. This project is still ongoing, and more schools are being booked for the project.
As a branch off the project above, we also implemented our “Water Project.” Chapmanville Regional High School’s Football concession stand helped us implement this project. A free bottle of water, with purchase, was given to all customers of the concession stand. Wild, Wonderful and Healthy Logan County stickers were placed on the water bottles, and a sign was also placed on the concession stand that said, “Compliments of Wild, Wonderful Healthy Logan County.” To keep from affecting the concession stand’s revenue, they were given a fee for each bottle given away. This was a very successful project, and we plan on continuing this in the future and implementing it in the two other high schools in the county.
The most recent project was our Greenhouse. We were fortunate enough to have been granted funds to complete this project. This is a direct partnership with Hungry Lambs Foodbank and Fresh Start programs. The Greenhouse that was implanted by us will house fresh produce that will be distributed in the monthly food distribution from Hungry Lambs Foodbank. This distribution happens once monthly, and anyone can come. The organization asks that you fill out some forms that details how many are in your home, income, and name, but no one will be turned away. It does take a team to handle a project of this magnitude, so we partnered with Logan Day Report Center, and members of their Fresh Start program have an opportunity to give back to their community. Their main task is to distribute food to the participants.
The foodbank has seen over 250 families in the most recent distributions. The goal is that, by Spring, the Greenhouse will have fresh vegetables growing, and will be able to distribute them to the participants. Without partnerships like these, it would make the task of making the county healthier much harder. We are thankful for patterns like these!
There is great work happening in Logan County, but there is still much more work to be done. We are taking strides in battling the negative stigmas surrounding the county. Our organization prides itself on making our community the best, and healthiest, it possible can be. Not only are we proud of the work we have done so far, but we are proud of the people in our community who help us make this possible. We cannot do it without them.
Written by DJ Conley, RN – Community Health Coordinator at Coalfield Health Center; Liaison for Wild, Wonderful Healthy Logan County.