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Improving Health, Wellness for Youth

We all know the health and wellness challenges present for many living in West Virginia. Tackling that problem means encouraging youngsters early on with healthy lifestyle choices including fitness and fresh foods.

The Edible Mountain Coalition believes it has the recipe to make an impact locally by improving health and wellness options for youth living in and around East Wheeling. And now leaders are formulating a plan to prove it.

This past week, the coalition, along with representatives of Grow Ohio Valley, the city of Wheeling and other community partners, announced it would be canvassing the East Wheeling neighborhood to gather input from residents on how to promote health and wellness. The key to making this a reality is a $3.2 million federal reclamation grant, which will allow for the revitalization of several acres on Vineyard Hill above the Nelson Jordan Center into a green space.

Glynis Board, acting executive director of Grow Ohio Valley, said residents already have suggested public art spaces, zip lines, geocaching sites, historical interpretation areas, shuttles and more for the site. A new community center also is being imagined along with improvements to the Nelson Jordan Center.

“Access to natural spaces and nature improves our health and wellbeing,” Board said. “We know that if we can improve their (urban youth) health and wellbeing just to the amount of everybody living in the rest of Ohio County, that Ohio County would be one of the healthiest counties in Appalachia. We know how to do it, and we know that we can do it. And that’s our goal. Our solution is to build on incredible work that is already being done.”

Board is right — as a community, we must work to find ways to encourage healthy lifestyles for all Ohio County children. This effort is one more step along that path.

We are not serving out youth by limiting their recreation and fresh food options, and possibly subjecting them to a lifetime of health issues. Edible Mountain and its partners are doing admirable work to change that.

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