WVU health initiative to kick off in southern W.Va.

Wyoming County community members key to success

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Under the leadership of the West Virginia University School of Public Health, a multidisciplinary group of health professionals from several WVU schools is initiating a multi-year effort to help southern West Virginia residents develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.

The Southern West Virginia Lifestyles project (SWVL, pronounced “swivel”) is the result of a collaborative effort by faculty and students representing WVU’s schools of Public Health, Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, and Pharmacy, along with the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design and the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. SWVL’s community debut will be in Pineville, Wyoming County at this weekend’s Labor Day Fair.

“The purpose of our presence in Wyoming County is to find residents who are interested in becoming healthy lifestyle organizers in their communities,” said Michael McCawley, Ph.D., SWVL leader and interim chair of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences. “We will supply these ‘core community members’ with information and training they can use for their own well-being and also share with their friends and neighbors.”

The project is expected to be a sustained effort in the area for years to come. West Virginia’s southern counties suffer from some of the highest rates of certain diseases, many associated with lifestyle, of any counties in the United States. By reaching into area communities to train people to help educate others within their social network, those involved with SWVL are working toward the WVU Health Sciences’ goal of transforming lives and eliminating health disparities within the state.

“Their hope is that southern West Virginia will gain a reputation as a place that practices healthy living and attracts visitors to come there to share in that experience,” Dr. McCawley said. “Upon the project’s eventual success, one economic goal of SWVL is to create a cottage industry of mini-spas and bed and breakfast destinations started by our trained community members to convey the message of healthy living to visitors.”

SWVL also plans to assist in the creation of several community-based resources for health and wellness education. Anticipated projects include smoking cessation programs, prescription drug addiction counseling, prenatal health programs, diabetes education, establishment of food cooperatives, publication of a Wyoming County collection of healthy recipes and construction of local exercise and recreation areas.

-- WVU HSC --

For more information:
For More Information:
lal: 08-29-12

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