This week we would like to spotlight the West Virginia Physical Activity Symposium: A First Step in the Development of a WV Physical Activity Plan.
The West Virginia Physical Activity Symposium was organized to draw the attention of statewide media, state government officials, and sector and regional representation from organizational leaders and other individuals throughout the state, to focus on the West Virginia Physical Activity Plan (WV PAP) and was held in June 1010. As part of the Symposium, working groups were formed to look at the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) strategies, and within each sector, select and refine strategies that are appropriate for WV. Groups were asked to begin to formulate action steps that could be incorporated into an effective plan to meet the needs of the state. Results of these meetings were used to begin writing a statewide PAP appropriate to meet the context of WV, with final release of the statewide Plan slated for May 2011. As with the NPAP, the WV PAP is based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, using the Guidelines as a foundation for plan development, policy recommendations, and advocacy.
Success was evaluated by looking at process indicators. The PA Symposium included 250 attendees, 7 nationally recognized speakers who shared a global perspective on physical activity and the sector-specific connection, 43 WV programs and research projects presenting posters, 18 WV professionals making oral presentations, and 3 nationally recognized celebrities (Shannon Miller, Olympic Gymnast; Jared Fogle, Subway Spokesman; Phil Psister, World’s Stongest Man) who promoted the message for increased physical activity. In addition, Governor Joe Manchin and the First Lady Gayle Manchin participated throughout, including hosting a reception for guests and the All-Conference Picnic at the Governor’s Mansion. Process indicators for success were accomplished, and in most cases, exceeded.
While Eloise Elliott, the chair of the WV PA Plan, did not mention facing any challenges, coordinating a statewide symposium is no simple feat. It can be difficult to reach all of the target populations or create enthusiasm for the event.
Implementing a Similar Program in Your Community
Elliott gave the following suggestions to consider when trying to develop a PAP plan or hold a symposium:
· Development begins with at least one key stakeholder who can provide statewide leadership and a team of dedicated individuals who can serve on a working coordinating committee.
· Key players include state policymakers and government agencies, state and local organizational partners that can provide input and leadership, and many interested individuals and groups who can foster implementation of the strategies and give grassroots input.
· Representation from all societal sectors and from all regions of the state is imperative. The call for action is for EVERYONE who can impact PA participation and/or opportunities to get involved, provide input, take ownership, and make it happen!
· A statewide initiative, such as a PA Symposium as an initial “first step” helps to facilitate interest and support, educates the state about the NPAP, and gives sectors and regional representatives throughout the state a venue to share best practices, and provide initial input into state needs, barriers and successes.
How has your community worked toward implementing the National Physical Activity Plan? Share your challenges and successes by commenting, below!