What will be the turning point for West Virginia – where will our path veer away from disease and poverty and toward health and prosperity?

No one has a crystal ball. But I’m as sure as I am of anything that the change will come from the bottom up – from people and communities who make a conscious effort to start small, build change around themselves and their neighborhoods, and share what they have learned with others.

We can’t say where the tipping point will arise, or when. But odds are it will happen within one of the scores of projects, large and small, that have banded together in the Try This West Virginia movement.   

The idea is simple, says Kate Long, a lifelong West Virginian and one of the leaders of the Try This movement. People want to be healthier. They want their children and families to thrive. But it’s hard work, and there’s no clear roadmap on how to do it.

What there is – all across the state – is a huge number of people who are willing to do that hard work. Try This brings them together – in person at conferences and meetings, on line at the Try This website, which is full of community success stories – and in small groups that work on projects year-round.

At this year’s conference, three Fayette County residents told stories of hope and change that inspired others.

                Linda Stein talked about the growth of a community group that’s making changes in how people approach exercise and diet:

 

Aletha Stolar tells a very personal story of her close brush with addiction, and how healthy activity with neighbors pulled her from the brink:

 

Joe DeGaetano shares his love for adventure sports with young people who never knew how much fun they could have in their own backyard:

That’s all happening in just one community in West Virginia.

I’ll be sharing more stories from Try This West Virginia in coming blogs.