Graduate Students Promote Healthy Community Activities in Ritchie Co.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eleven Fairmont State University graduate students aided residents of Ritchie County in developing sustainable, healthy community activities, through a project funded by West Virginia Campus Compact. Now that project has the attention of the National Institutes of Health.

The Master of Education, Exercise Science, Fitness and Wellness students were enrolled in the fall 2012 semester Health Promotion and Wellness Programming class taught by Dr. Amy Sidwell and Dr. Robin Yeager, faculty members in the School of Education, Health and Human Performance. Through West Virginia Campus Compact’s Campus Community LINK grant, Sidwell was matched with a proposal submitted by the Ritchie County Family Resource Network (FRN).

“What the FRN wanted from Fairmont State was help in implementing activities in the community. They wanted us to develop a sustainability plan to give them tips on how they might continue some of these projects, and the third thing they were asking for from us was to develop a catalog of physical activity resources in the county,” Sidwell said.

While cataloging physical activity resources, students conducted a community health survey. They found most people were not physically active, but when they were active, they were exercising at home. FSU’s new partnership with the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging will allow the University to provide Ritchie County with Go4Life fitness materials.

The class developed a free catalog that is being distributed through the FRN. Some physical activity suggestions included exercising at home, doing household chores like mowing your lawn and joining a new community gym that recently opened. Students in the class also wrote articles about wellness activities that were published in the Ritchie Gazette and Pennsboro News.

“The graduate student projects were wonderful; they were spectacular. They conducted a basketball clinic. They did a food tasting at one of the local elementary schools, and so we brought fresh fruits and vegetables and took them to the county for the children to try. They absolutely loved it. We had one student who worked with a prevention resource officer and they worked on those issues in the county,” Sidwell said.

Participating FSU students were Karli Brentlinger of Annapolis, Md.; Michael Tornifolio of Morgantown; Greg Rangel of El Paso, Texas; Brittany Tallhammer of Parkersburg; Theresa Zapach of Fairmont; Camilo Guerci of Miami; Jonathan Adams of Chapmanville; Heidi Bastin of Bridgeport; Vick Slate of White Sulphur Springs; Doug Renshaw of Odessa, Texas; and Ekaterina Inozemtseva of Russia. The project allowed the students to gain hands-on experience in developing wellness programs.

Sidwell commended the Ritchie County Family Resource Network for their efforts.

“If the Family Resource Network had not posted the proposal and introduced us to the community, none of this would have happened. They really deserve a lot of recognition,” Sidwell said.

West Virginia Campus Compact advances the public purposes of colleges and universities by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. West Virginia Campus Compact is an initiative of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. For more information about West Virginia Campus Compact and the Ritchie County project, visit http://www.wvcampuscompact.org/ritchie-county-healthy-activities-rural-community.

For more information about programs in the School of Education, Health and Human Performance, visit http://www.fairmontstate.edu/schoolofeducation/.