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Wirt County receives health recognition

Wirt County received a gold status for the Healthy People Healthy Places Award from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources during the inaugural ceremony Tuesday in Charleston. (Photo Provided)

ELIZABETH — Wirt was one of three counties in the state to receive the Healthy People Healthy Places Award from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Wirt County was presented with the gold award, the highest ranking, during a ceremony in Charleston on Tuesday.

“These inaugural awards resulted from key stakeholders coming together to put forth a strong plan to address obesity after the national 2018 Southern Obesity Summit that took place in Charleston in 2018,” said Jessica Wright, Healthy People director. “Our goal is to recognize good work going on in communities that truly support health as a social and cultural norm.”

According to its website, Healthy People Healthy Places focuses on “recognizing the communities that make West Virginia a healthier place to live.”

Sarah Barton, senior projects manager for Coplin Health System, worked with the City of Elizabeth, Wirt County Family Resource Network, the mayor of Elizabeth and the Wirt County superintendent of schools to complete and submit an application on behalf of the county.

The application highlighted programs in the county that provide healthy foods to the community. Wirt County Schools provided breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for their students; students also have access to $4 vouchers to purchase produce from a local farmers market.

To promote physical activity, Coplin Health System is working to bring exercise equipment to the park where all residents have access.

Elizabeth officials are working on projects to include walking and running trails and ensuring all sidewalks are safe to use as a walking path, Barton said.

Since this was the first year for the award, Barton said she plans to submit applications for Wood and Jackson counties next year. She said those counties have good ideas they can use for growth in Wirt County.

Barton said the idea behind the award is that everybody in the community works collectively to offer good health initiatives to their residents.

According to a press release from the Health and Human Resources, award recipients will receive signs and other ways to promote their commitment to healthy lifestyles.

“Wirt County does a lot for its residents to help improve their health. Because they’re so small, oftentimes their efforts are overlooked,” Barton said. “This was a great opportunity to highlight that on a larger level.”

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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