Create a walking or running club in your community

BUCKHANNON — With the new year and resolutions right around the corner, Brittney Barlett and Try This WV—an organization dedicated to helping communities stay active—are teaching people how to start a walking or running club in their own communities.

Over 30 people attended class via Zoom and Facebook Live on Monday, November 29 at 11 a.m. The class goal was to make getting healthier as accessible as possible. In many cases, all one would need is a sidewalk, a pair of shoes, and a few minutes of free time. The more difficult aspect of the idea is getting a group of people together to motivate each other. Starting one of these clubs could be a game changer in helping West Virginians get active, lose weight, and find the motivation to take control of their own health.

During the class, Active Southern WV, a leader in organizing group exercise, joined to give input into ways they recruit and retain volunteers and participants. Active Southern and Try This WV have both been hosting youth and adult running and walking groups. Kelly Miller Community Center’s Sherri James was also present and spoke on hosting a summer walking program in Harrison County in past years.

Other presenters spoke on their experiences with similar programs. Dr. Mark Cucuzzella joined the discussion to talk about how he helped get the Freedoms Run series started in the Eastern Panhandle. Elizabeth Raney spoke on her work as a volunteer director with Active Southern WV and what it takes to keep a walking or running group going. Cassidy Allison, from Girls on the Run of North Central WV, spoke about how a whole-person approach to health can start with a running club. Reed Byers shared how he started the first Healthy Kids Running Series in Parkersburg, WV.

“The event was really successful. We had folks representing different parts of the state with different resources, demographics, and styles of organizing, but all with the same goal—making walking and running more accessible and engaging in a group setting. It’s events like this, full of networking, sharing, and brainstorming, that will help knock West Virginia off the worst health lists,” said Barlett.

Take a stand in the fight against obesity and start a walking or running club with other members of your community.

Anyone interested in starting a group can visit, as well as the Try This WV Facebook group. Another event will be held for central WV on December 8 and can be found on the Facebook page. For questions about healthy community engagement and projects focused on healthy food and/or physical activity, reach out to Brittney Barlett at (304) 997-4628 or email Barlett at [email protected]


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