The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) will once again build upon community engagement – this time focusing on programming that educates, supports and encourages women 35 and older and their families to live a healthy lifestyle.
The school’s Center for Rural and Community Health (CRCH) was selected as one of the winners of Quality Insights’ 50th anniversary grant program, created to support promising and innovative initiatives to improve health and health care quality. Quality Insights is a West Virginia-based company whose mission is to use data and community solutions to improve health.
Through the $21,361 grant, the CRCH will implement the “Women Interested in Staying Healthy” (WISH) project in Greenbrier County. The program will provide structured events based on nutrition, exercise and health education.
The idea for the WISH project came from attention gained through a Woman’s World magazine article that featured Drema Hill, Ph.D., WVSOM’s vice president for community engagement and chief operations officer, about her 144-pound weight loss journey over six years. Hill’s recognition in the national magazine prompted a need to raise awareness about how incremental lifestyle changes can result in lasting health improvement.
“It’s amazing to me to see the person I used to be,” Hill said. “There is still more work to do before I reach my ultimate goal, but being able to go from taking 13 medications a day to only three has changed my life. It shows how dramatically your life can improve by incorporating healthy lifestyle changes.”
Each two-hour, biweekly session will be facilitated by Cheryl Workman, community ambassador and project lead, and will include a nutritional session with a cooking demonstration by a local dietician, a session devoted to low-impact exercise by a local exercise physiologist and an education session on topics that promote healthy lifestyle change through nutrition and exercise by a local functional medicine physician.
Sven T. Berg, M.D., CEO of Quality Insights, said the organization is pleased to support WVSOM in launching its WISH project.
“We are particularly impressed by the initiative’s focus on fostering a sustainable network for peer support and developing an infrastructure that can have a ripple effect on family health,” he said. “We eagerly anticipate the positive health outcomes and sustainable changes WISH is poised to deliver to women in West Virginia.”
Greenbrier County women 35 years and older who participate in the program will have health information collected, including BMI and a self-assessment questionnaire. Women younger than 35 are welcome to participate, but health information will not be tracked.
“WVSOM students will have the opportunity to analyze the data and apply their findings to research to be presented statewide,” Workman said. “We are so excited to have a student scholarly activity as part of our project.”
The program will empower women to take control of their health by creating a comprehensive, long-term improvement in participants’ body mass index scores and healthy behaviors.
Those interested in participating can contact Cheryl Workman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-647-6330 by Sept. 25. The first of 20 meetings will take place from 5 to 7 p.m., Sept. 28, at the Clingman Center for Community Engagement in Lewisburg, and the program will continue through August 2024.