West Virginia is ranked last in participation in recreation and regular exercise. With one-third of the world considered "fat," the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. has partnered with the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley Area in a project titled "Trek the Trail."
Under a grant awarded to WNHAC from the National Parks Foundation, these groups are encouraging everyone to use Wheeling's local trails whether walking, runner, biking or skating. Other local support comes from Friends of Wheeling, Ohio County Schools and the Ohio Valley Trail Partners.
The trail system in Wheeling is an integral part of the Wheeling National Heritage Area. As Wheeling's past industries grew, rail access expanded. Over the years, industries left, the need for rail transportation declined and rail beds were converted to bicycle-walking trails. These paved trails are maintained by the city and have easy access points with parking.
Wheeling alone has miles of paved trail with the Ohio River Trail running north-south starting at the city line in South Wheeling and reaching the Pike Island Dam where the trail continues into Brooke County. The other, the Wheeling Creek Trail, runs east-west providing opportunities to cross the Hempfield Viaduct high above the creek and an opportunity to experience the Hempfield Tunnel (Tunnel Green).
The program and kick-off of the website begins Saturday, June 14, in collaboration with the Augusta Levy Learning Center for its Color Me Au-Some 5k run-walk. All participants who register with Trek the Trails will be instructed to go to www.trekthetrail.org to record their participation and mileage. Everyone is also encouraged to visit the "Trek the Trail Wheeling" Facebook page that will list upcoming events and trail tips.
On the website those registered can watch their progress and activities through October. hose signing up at the free events will receive a free pedometer to keep track of their mileage.
At the end of October, prizes including gift certificates for spa treatments, bicycles and sports equipment will be awarded to those who have registered online and tracked their mileage. All those registered will be eligible to win. Any trails including Oglebay's can be used for participating as part of this program and it will be up to the individual to go to the website to log mileage or event participation.
Chris Villamagna, WNHAC staff member and Ohio Valley Trail Partners vice president, said, "We are very lucky in Wheeling to have these great trails and so many beautiful places to walk and get exercise. This program will promote healthy eating, nutrition, exercise and education about weight gain and hopefully we can be proactive in getting people of all ages out on the trails." Questions may be directed to Villamagna at 304-232-3087 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The grant to fund this project from the National Park Foundation is made possible by the support of the Active Trails program from the Coca-Cola Co., Coca-Cola Foundation, Disney, Scrooby Foundation and Subaru.