This month we are highlighting Community Captain, Mara Petretich! Mara is a Community Captain with Get Active in the Park, she leads both Mountain Biking and Stand Up Paddle Boarding. She has the passion and drive to help others lead healthier and happier lives. Take some time to learn about her and how you can take steps to leading a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Q: Tell us about yourself: Where are you from? How did you end up in West Virginia?
Mara: “I grew up in Arizona, lived in Colorado for six years, then came to West Virginia in 1999. We came for a job transfer with the criteria being we wanted to live in a place with mountains and rivers. When I came to West Virginia I felt like I had found my home.”
Q: Why are you Active? How did you start?
Mara: “I was never a sports- playing kid, but always loved the outdoors. I grew up swimming, roller skating, camping with my family, and riding my bike. In college that grew to mountain biking and backpacking. In my 30’s I discovered snowboarding and yoga and began taking more of an interest in fitness. A few years ago, I started stand up paddle boarding. Next I want to try riding a one-wheel!”
Q: What motivated you to volunteer with Active SWV in your community?
Mara: “I love seeing other people get psyched about trying challenging outdoor activities. Learning to do hard things is so empowering and exciting. It’s just the best when someone’s face lights up with that thrill. Some of the best things West Virginia has to offer may not be accessible if someone doesn’t have the gear or is unsure where to go and how to get started. This organization really bridges that gap for people.”
Q: How do you stay motivated? Why is being active a priority for you?
Mara: “I’m motivated to keep up with my own kids and be an example for my middle school students (I teach physical education and health). I love hard workouts because it’s good for my mental health- it clears my head and makes me a better mom, wife, and teacher. Working out and being active keeps me strong and healthy so I feel good and I can enjoy the activities I love. It’s also important to me to be active as a family- it’s just our lifestyle.”
Q: Why do you think someone should join an Active SWV free program?
Mara: “Most of us know we need to be more active and get out in nature for our physical and mental health alike, but many people haven’t created that habit, or their family wasn’t very active. There are programs for every possible interest and ability level and you can take advantage of what makes West Virginia so amazing- the people and the outdoors.”
Q: Do you have any words of encouragement for people thinking of becoming a Community Captain or interested in committing to becoming more physically active?
Mara: “If you are new to being physically active, start slow and have fun. You aren’t going to stick with something if you don’t enjoy it. Maybe sign up for an activity with a friend, or you may meet people at the different activities. Then the challenge is making the time and being consistent with your activities. Becoming a Community Captain is really rewarding and there is a lot of support. It’s a fantastic organization to be involved with.”
Active SWV, the staff, and community are so thankful to have Mara on our team. She is enthusiastic about encouraging and transforming our community into a happy and healthy place to be. She is a part of a community that believes in decreasing the barriers that the people in our state face, by increasing opportunities for people to get active in southern West Virginia.
Thank you, Mara, we are so happy that you have joined our team!