Spotlighting Be Healthy’s Year Three partners: Physical Activity
At Be Healthy, we’re passionate about the health and wellness of our fellow West Virginians. That’s why it’s our goal to increase access to healthy foods and safe spaces for physical activity in McDowell County and Clay County — two counties selected by the CDC for HOP funding.
Each year, we accept applications for ongoing projects or project ideas that will improve the health of our communities in the short- and long-term. Since our founding in 2019, Be Healthy has assisted more than 30 community partners and organizations, supporting and connecting these groups with funding and much-needed resources.
For the 2021 grant cycle, we selected 10 Year Three project partners, with four projects focused on healthy food access and six focused on physical activity. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on Community Care of West Virginia Inc. and the development of a pocket park.
Below, project organizer Dr. Christine Jones shares her insight into the team’s vision, motivation, and long-term aspirations.
Partner: Community Care of West Virginia
Project: Pocket Park and Walking Trail at the Big Otter Clinic
At the Big Otter Clinic, Dr. Christine Jones saw potential in an unexpected space: the vacant lot behind her medical clinic.
During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Jones and the clinic staff had found alternative ways and spaces to treat their patients to ensure safety — and comfort. For Jones, it had become critical to meet the patients where they were, which often meant visiting patients in the parking lot, on their porches, or at the clinic’s picnic table.
“It was during this time sitting outside I started thinking how critical outside spaces had become,” Jones said. “I was also seeing first hand how taking a healthcare visit outside often changed the visit in a positive way. People were much more relaxed and it provided moments where both the patient and provider could reduce stress.his prompted us to take another look at this unused lot of land behind the clinic.”
While developing the pocket park idea, Jones reached out to West Virginia University’s School of Design and Community Development to help solidify project plans. Then, she applied for grant funding for the project. The project now has a group of volunteers who are active in the park’s construction.
With its mountainous, rural terrain, Clay County has few public spaces for recreational activities, which can make it challenging for residents to find safe spaces for exercising outdoors. Staying active, Jones said, can make a difference in one’s overall health now and later in life, reducing the likelihood of developing certain diseases or chronic illnesses.
“Development of a recreational trail integrating the goals of our clinic in promoting better health outcomes and offering the local community a safe exercise alternative is a natural extension of our overall mission to help our patients live the healthiest lives possible,” Jones said. “We hope the long-term goals will be improved overall health. We hope that our patients and community at large benefit from the development of this new public space.”
Once the park is completed, Jones said she plans to integrate the space into day-to-day operations at the Big Otter clinic. Currently, the Community Care group is working on the landscaping portion of the project.
“The Be Healthy support along with other grants we received allowed us to get the walking trail finished and start on the gardens,” Jones said. “We are moving into the second phase applying for additional funding for a meditation garden and covered seating to help provide additional space for staff and patients. We thank everyone for the support on this project.”
Community Care will be looking for volunteers to help manage the garden. Readers interested in supporting the pocket park at Big Otter clinic can reach out to Kerry Gabbert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this series where we’ll be highlighting three more partners who focus on increasing access to healthy foods and produce to their communities!