Active Southern West Virginia strives to improve the health of all Southern West Virginians by increasing opportunities for active lifestyles.

Founded in 2014, with support from the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, we work with residents, businesses, schools, and local governments to develop community programs that create a culture of exercise in the region. Drawing from evidence-based interventions and the West Virginia Physical Activity Plan, with the advisory assistance of Richmond Sports Backers as a proven model, we have taken an asset focused approach that encourages and supports the local populations in creating their own means of increasing physical activity. 

By transforming West Virginia into a more physically active, healthier community, we improve individual’s lives –reversing the alarming rates of heart disease, diabetes, and shortened life expectancy that our state faces. Further, we experience the ripple effect of building a stronger community and economy by strengthening the health of the workforce.

A happy and healthy community will attract visitors, new businesses and jobs.

View the 2019 Mid-Year Report here.

Here are some ways to get ACTIVE.

Community captains

Wellness is a personal matter, and we hope to make those personal decisions easier for community members by increasing their options to join groups they’re most comfortable with. Coworkers, neighbors, classmates, and family are often those who can provide the support and motivation people need to get moving and stay active. Community Captains will motivate and lead their neighbors and friends in living an active and healthy lifestyle. Join online lifestyle management classes such as the Diabetes Prevention Program to prevent type 2 diabetes.

“Not one specific story, but just such a sense of community and belonging that has developed from the continued role this group plays in my life. Being new to the area, ActiveSWV as a whole has made me feel incredibly welcomed, and empowered, and those feelings help me be a better version of myself.”

Kids run clubs

Our youngest community members are not only the key to our future, but also the ones who create fresh, fun, new ideas about how to get active. They need safe, accessible places to play and confidence that their ideas are being heard. That’s why we will work with the region’s youth to create and establish effective exercise activities as well as promoting overall healthy habits within Kids Run Clubs.

“I will continue to be the head coach for our school because I love encouraging kids to run and be active! It is also wonderful to see kids wanting to sign up year after year! We are a small school and to see so many kids interested in this club is inspiring!” – Shannon Cooper, Nichols ES 

Active Places

By rethinking the region’s infrastructure to support active lifestyles, Southern West Virginians can improve health and wellness with more opportunities to get out and exercise while increasing economic activity and job creation. Active SWV Active Places is committed to providing a network of accessible locations to make physical activity safe, fun and convenient for everyone.

“The variety of parks and recreation departments, businesses, and community buildings that partner with Active SWV to allow volunteer Community Captains to provide free programs truly makes a difference in peoples lives. These indoor and outdoor places allow residents local, accessible, and safe places to be active.”

Workplace wellness

Many people spend a significant portion of their lives at work, which is why it is imperative that work sites implement evidence-based environmental changes and policy updates that enable employees to choose healthy behaviors at work. Active SWV provides technical assistance to work sites that want to make these positive changes for their employees. This Workplace Wellness program is supported by the members of the New River Gorge Regional Health Alliance that seek to collaborate across county lines to improve the health of the region.

“We built up our Wellness Program and got more employees interested in healthy lifestyles and activities, such as increasing water consumption, taking walk breaks during the day, and using Therabands at their desks to build strength. I see more employees laughing and engaging with one another. They will stop me to tell me what healthy habits they are currently pursuing and several have commented on the benefits of the activities we have been doing.”

Signature Events

Active SWV provides high quality, unique sporting events to the residents of West Virginia and tourists at an economic fee in order to sustain the organizations free community programs. Volunteers are always needed to ensure the best participant experience and provide a way to be active through volunteering. The two signature events are the Active SWV Family Triathlon and the Active SWV Bridge Day 5K.

“When I learned of the NRG Rim to Rim race in the Gorge, my initial thought was no way a broken-bodied, bad-back, fifty-year-old me should be anywhere close to the event. After a night or two of thought, I decided having something new to chase could be a motivator to not only continue my daily walks but to do so with a purpose and with some speed. No doubt by letting go and letting my new body and mind chase a goal of walking in and out of the Gorge, allowed me to take another step towards not only living an active lifestyle but leading an active lifestyle. I have already made plans for next year’s race.”

Active swv archives

We understand that without proper community infrastructure, active lifestyles are difficult to maintain. We’ll be advocating for safe streets and improvements to other public places so that walkers, runners, and bikers have a safe environment in which to exercise outdoors. These Bike/Walk improvements can include protected bike lanes, fitness trails and connected neighborhoods.

Active SWV worked from 2015 – 2020 with communities to improve walk-ability and bike-ability. Learn more about that work and participating communities below: