Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Martinsville Showcased as Active Living Community

On Saturday, April 4th, 30 people arrived on a bus from three West Virginia communities to find out first-hand what the buzz was all about in Martinsville. Patty Deutsch, Policy Director for the Wellness Council of West Virginia said she contacted Active Living by Design months prior to ask for assistance in locating a community similar to theirs that was raising the bar for creating a healthy, active community. They suggested Martinsville, Virginia, a five hour drive away.

Jeannie Frisco, Program Director for Activate said she was a little dazed but very honored to receive the call from Deutsch that she and others wanted to visit the area to find out more about the active living initiative. “It made me aware that while we are facing an economic crisis, there are other communities that are not nearly as far ahead as we are."

During Frisco’s presentation, she highlighted how unique the concept of active living is and that everything is tied together. “Our initiative encompasses economics, tourism, health, quality of life and builds assets such as trails and river accesses for our citizens." Frisco acknowledged the panelists, Felecia Rupert, Tourism Assistant, Jennifer Doss with DRBA, Barbara Jackman with Coalition for Health and Wellness, Melissa Gravely with Activate, City Manager Clarence Monday and Mayor Kathy Lawson and said “there is not one leader in our efforts but many. By working together, Martinsville will become a vibrant community once again.”

The group consisting of mayors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, media, teachers and advocates toured the Uptown area during their day-long forum, stopping in at the Farmers Market, Studio 107 and Hooker Furniture.

During the conclusion of a long but fun-filled day, Ms. Deutsch indicated that they “enjoyed learning about the innovative approaches designed to encourage community activity. The comprehensive, well planned program shared with us today by the Martinsville collaborative will support our efforts to move our WV Collaborative, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, project ahead.”

Kathy Hill, Chair of RevUp-Madison shared her closing remarks with the local organizations and Mayor Lawson. “Visiting Martinsville was a rejuvenating experience. To see a town that had already incorporated many of the same ideas that our group have discussed. It was very encouraging to see that changes can occur even with our current economy.”

Mayor Lawson, who welcomed the West Virginia Wellness Council and gave opening remarks during the event, thanked Activate for the work in preparing the forum and inviting the panelists. “Activate and its community partners’ success was evident today. By mentoring to the West Virginia Wellness Council, our community leaders should recognize all that Activate has accomplished in its short time in existence. My hat is off to their success and for sharing that success with our sister state,” said Lawson

The Wellness Council of West Virginia is a nonprofit organization which works exclusively with businesses, corporations, non profits and other employers to develop results-oriented wellness initiatives.

Article and photos by: Jeannie Frisco
Edited and posted by: Vicky Thomas

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