New summer program to promote physical activity through community partnerships

(© Gary L. Hider –

By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

Several local organizations, including Waynesboro Schools, are partnering to provide opportunities for physical activity and access to books for low-income children in River City.

“Community on the Move: Resources and Fun for All” is a response to Augusta Health’s 2019 Community Needs Assessment.

“And one of the needs that came out of that was physical activity,” said Krystal Moyers, executive director of Augusta Health, Community Outreach and Partnership. A new needs assessment is currently gathering information from the public.

Moyers said Augusta Health and the YMCA of Waynesboro considered options to meet this need in the community and “knew that ultimately we wanted to bring community partners together.”

In 1997, while with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Waynesboro YMCA Executive Director Jeff Fife participated in the Jammin’ Book Van, which toured low-income neighborhoods with DJ gear and books . Eventually the van was with the Waynesboro Rotary Club and then the YMCA, and played music and encouraged everyone to get out of their homes to play games and get books.

About five months ago, Fife told Moyers about the van.

“And that idea really stuck with me,” Moyers said.

Partner organizations including Waynesboro Schools, the Waynesboro YMCA, Augusta Health, LIFEworks Project, the Boys and Girl Club, The United Way of Greater Augusta, the Office on Youth, Embrace Waynesboro, Waynesboro Public Library, Sin Barreras, the Virginia Department of According to Moyers, Health and The Wayne Theater have made an inventory of current community programs. Next, they considered what need they could address from the assessment, and what barriers the community faced to prevent them from accessing that need.

Moyers said Waynesboro schools were willing to donate a mobile van that the school system no longer needs. After approval from the Waynesboro School Board, the van was donated to the Office on Youth.

Community partners are identifying low-income neighborhoods in Waynesboro and, Moyers said, will create a schedule of neighborhoods the van will visit on Saturdays this summer. Each organization will propose an activity in turn. For example, on Saturday Waynesboro Schools will provide products from its program with the Allegheny Mountain Institute and books. On another Saturday, Augusta Health will be offering physical activity with products from Embrace. Augusta Health could provide canned goods with physical activity by the YMCA on another Saturday.

“It could be a collaboration to bring all of our resources together,” Moyers said.

Fife said the Community in Motion van, which will be painted next week, is a vehicle dedicated to a program supported by the City of Waynesboro and community organizations.

On June 4 and 11, the YMCA is scheduled with the Waynesboro Public Library to tour neighborhoods with the van.

“I’m going to make some noise. We become the inaugural organization,” said Fife. He added that community partners hope the van will become like when an ice cream truck visits a neighborhood: a much-anticipated and welcome sight. “The Y is well positioned to be that loud entity,” Fife said.

Community in Motion is “going to have a positive impact on real, vulnerable families in our area,” he said.

“It’s totally surreal to watch the collaborative magic work,” Fife said.

Ryan H. Bowman