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New community partnership to increase physical activity in West Virginia

It’s no secret that West Virginia currently ranks as one of the highest states for obesity prevalence. Partners from multiple organizations around the state, including faculty and staff from West Virginia University, believe that a key component to tackling this problem is to empower communities to take charge of their health – thus forming Take Back Our Health WV.

Take Back Our Health WV, a community-based project that aims to improve the health of West Virginians by increasing access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities where West Virginians live, work, learn, play and pray.

Last week, a partnership between West Virginia University College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and West Virginia Health Promotion and Chronic Disease, launched the Take Back Our Health-Physical Activity Grant Program. The program will focus on improving the health of communities through increasing opportunities for physical activity for children throughout the school day and beyond, increasing or improving pedestrian and bike infrastructure and creating opportunities for physical activity referrals in healthcare settings.

“Several state organizations have come together to address obesity prevention. Take Back Our Health WV physical activity mini grants, through the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health’s partnership with WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, will allow community leaders to improve physical activity accessibility. We are excited for this endeavor that will create positive changes for our state,” Jessica Wright, director, Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease, Bureau for Public Health, said.

According to Wright, Take Back Our Health WV partners recognize that there are communities and organizations all over the state who are making strides to improve the health of West Virginia. With this unique opportunity, the collaboration will engage and support communities who are working to increase access to physical activity.

“We are excited to put wind in the sails of the physical activity champions across the state who are already doing great work. These funds will hopefully allow them to expand their efforts for greater reach and effectiveness,” Sam Zizzi, Dr. Pat Fehl Endowed Professor and associate dean for research, CPASS, said.  

Applications for project proposals are due December 2, 2019 with funds awarded early January 2020. For more information about the grant opportunity or how to apply, contact Rachel Byrne, project coordinator,, or 304-293-6981.

To keep up with the Take Back Our Health-Physical Activity Project, follow @beactivewv on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The project team encourages followers to use #BeActiveWV to interact and connect with others involved in the project on social media.

For more information, contact

Rachel Byrne, Project Coordinator, 304.293.6981;
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