Trail work

Last October, the Southern Appalachian Labor School hosted a team from the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps to assist with two projects in the Beards Fork area. The 10-person crew, based out of Vicksburg, Miss., worked on the SALS Beards Fork Trail, which will provide an exercise trail for the community. Crew members also prepared virtual educational materials for the SALS Accent Education After-School Program.

BEARDS FORK — The Southern Appalachian Labor School has been selected as one of just 20 statewide workplaces to receive a specific grant aimed at supporting workplace wellness.

According to a press release from SALS, the grants are made possible by Active Southern West Virginia and the WV Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease.

By receiving the grant award, SALS will be better able to support the health and well-being of staff, volunteers and community members through creative wellness initiatives such as the organization's community foods project for health living. As part of the grant, a SALS staff member will also receive certification in CDC Work@Health employer training. That six-week evidence-based course gives participants the tools and education to develop and sustain a workplace wellness program in the coming years.

Thanks to the National Coal Heritage Area Authority and a team from the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, SALS has developed a 2.8-mile rail-trail from WV 61 to Beards Fork, a project that will be pivotal to the workplace wellness endeavor. It will dovetail with a high tunnel/farm initiative already in place at the SALS Community Center in Beards Fork.

According to Dr. John David, the SALS director, exercise and healthy living are key components with all SALS programs. He noted the rail-trail will also permit social distance exercise as well as allow participants to have refreshments at the SALS Community Center while en route along the trail.

Active SWV is a non-profit providing an ecosystem of physical activity for the residents of southern West Virginia by offering programs led by trained volunteers from within the communities they serve. Workplace wellness is one piece of the ecosystem, officials stress.

"We spend a significant portion of our lives at work," said Veronica Crosier, Active SWV's workplace wellness director. "It's important we don't wait until we're home to consider our wellness.

"With these grants, we hope to ... ignite the inspiration needed for workplaces to kick off a sustainable wellness program for their employees."

Employee health and well-being should be a priority for workplaces. A structured workplace wellness program makes this prioritization easy, creating a culture of wellness. When employees' health is valued, employers can expect to see higher productivity, increased morale and much more.

To learn more about workplace wellness grants through Active SWV, or starting your own workplace wellness program, contact Crosier at veronica@activeswv.com.

For more information about participating in the SALS project or utilizing the rail trail, contact SALS Coordinator Joe Webb at 681-422-4774, leave a message at 304-465-9732 or email SALS@citynet.net.

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