Last updated: July 18. 2013 2:31PM - 228 Views
Staff Report

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Often, working toward a goal first requires baby steps before any major strides are evident.

That seems to be the strategy adopted by the Change the Future WV program, a statewide initiative to try to turn the corner on the health challenges that so many West Virginians face. It’s an approach that seems to make sense in light of the behaviors, circumstances and attitudes that have led the Mountain State over the decades to becoming one of the unhealthier states in the nation.

The early stages of the initiative, launched six months ago thanks to a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are showing promise. While leaders of Change the Future WV acknowledge that improving the state’s various poor health rankings won’t happen overnight, the program already has launched activities aimed directly at the factors that affect West Virginians’ health.

Change the Future WV’s three priorities are to promote tobacco-free living; encourage active living and healthy eating; and promote clinical and preventive health services within communities.

Toward those ends, it already has engaged several partners to help. …

Tim Hazelett, who directs Change the Future WV in the nine-county region that includes Cabell, Wayne and Putnam counties, said he has been encouraged by the response received so far from a variety of collaborators. They have included businesses, churches, health agencies and non-profit groups. That collaboration is essential, he said, to informing people of healthier options, removing barriers preventing them from pursuing those alternatives, and reinforcing behaviors and choices that will lead to healthier lives.

He described it all as “grassroots efforts,” which makes sense to reach as much of the state’s population as possible and encouraging people to take more responsibility for improving their health. When it comes down to it, making significant change in West Virginians’ health is providing them the necessary options to live healthier and convincing them to adopt them.

With more and more groups and individuals collaborating to get that message across, this program could well change the future for the better for many West Virginians.

— Distributed by The Associated Press

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