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Improving the landscape of walkability in the six Mid-Ohio Valley Counties has been a key target for the Change the Future WV initiative. Improving, expanding, and promoting walking trails is one way to allow people safe avenue for physical activity and to improve the physical activity environment of a rural community. There have been several demonstrations of how simple modifications to existing trails and how the addition of connecting trails can vastly improve the landscape of the Mid-Ohio Valley. Two great examples of how this have been accomplished exist in the cities of Belmont and Grantsville.

The City of Belmont and Change the Future WV demonstrated perfectly how a track provides a safe and attractive place to walk with the improvements to the Belmont Track. It connects several destinations, and the residents of Belmont can travel by walking rather than driving. In addition, the county committed to further the improvement of the track in order to increase physical activity among members of the Belmont community. The track now connects to a senior citizen home, a nearby housing development (which will allow several children to access the track to walk to school), and the local post office.

A new trail and leading from downtown Grantsville to the Minnie Hamilton Health Complex is bringing a good cardiac workout to residents. The path is called The Ruth Looney Trail, as the idea originated from Ruth, the Office Assistant in the Calhoun County Health Department office. “Ruth is an avid walker and stated how it would be nice to have a shortcut to town so she could walk to the post office to get the mail. The seed was planted and the idea took off”, reported County Coordinator Janet Heiney.

Community involvement has been strong, with the County Commission and Town Council approving the trail. The trail is already a success with Minnie Hamilton Health Systems employees, WIC participants walking to the Health Department, and an 80 year old resident of Grantsville who walks the trail every day, rain or shine!