They bought mountain bikes and gave them to the high schools.
They looked over the walking and biking trail maps for their six counties and figured out ways to connect them.
They arranged for local farmers markets to take SNAP (formerly food stamps) cards. In some cases, they helped create farmers' markets.
These projects are like puzzle pieces that "add up to a healthier community, once they are put together," said CDC project officer Wendy Heirendt.
"Until today, I never put it together that all these things were part of the same project," Wirt Superintendent Metz said.
At the project's request, the Office of Child Nutrition helped sign up schools for the federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program. Now 8,700 children eat and learn about fruits and vegetables many had never seen: kumquats, starfruit, kiwis.
"We did one thing that cost a lot of money," Whitberg said. "We wanted to see what would happen if children had physical activity every day." So they hired 14 extra high school physical education teachers for a year.
The impact was startling. Only 34 percent of students tested in the aerobic fitness zone at the year's beginning. By year's end, it was 43 percent.
All six county commissions passed resolutions calling on the state Legislature to mandate daily physical activity in the schools.
Change the Future, part two
Another CDC grant, the five-year Community Transformation Grant, picks up where this one leaves off, Barker said. "We're calling it Change the Future WV too," he said. "This time it will be statewide."
Four health departments -- Mid-Ohio, Kanawha-Charleston, Cabell-Huntington, and Berkeley -- have $300,000 apiece per year to keep the ball rolling.
"This is the kind of thing that really could change the future," the CDC's Bunnell said.
Learn more about Change the Future WV projects at www.changethefuturewv.org.
Reach Kate Long at katel...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1798.