Making a healthy choice isnt necessarily easy, but it doesnt have to be painful either.

Thats the philosophy of Dr. Melanie Booth-Butterfield, a professor and health communication researcher in West Virginia Universitys Department of Communication Studies, and shes taking it statewide.

Booth-Butterfield knows that good health (as related to healthy lifestyles) comes down to good communicationwhich is what shes doing through a Web site she created that she callsLive Long West Virginia(www.livelongwv.com).

The site encourages people to get the word out the word on good healthwhether through public school classes, civic group projects, community health fairs or other venues across the Mountain State.

And it tells how to the get the message outwithout putting people out.

Booth-Butterfield knows the oldIf its good for you, it must be boringmantra. Thats why the Peggy Rardin McConnell Chair of Speech Communication has built the site around a series of non-preachy ponderables that she says are good launching points for any lifestyle change:

  • Whats important to you? Is it your family? Feeling good? Independence? Friends? Money? Having fun?
  • Now, how is having good health (or not) a part of these?
  • What are some safety and health issueslarge or smallin your community that concern you? (Not what someone else tells you to worry aboutbut, rather, what you think is important).

Were not the �€~food police,Booth-Buterfield said.Were not trying to take away all your fun. Its about talking and thinking, and being honest about your health.

Its also about teaching others to communicate the message, through forums, projects and other avenues, and Booth-Butterfield will continue that mission on campus beginning next fall and spring when she introduces two new courses she created:

Advanced Health Communicationwill be offered in Fall 2007, and will guide whole teams ofstudents through research projects aimed at positively influencing health and safety awareness among West Virginians.

The Dissemination of Health Communicationin Spring 2008 is a logical progression of the fall course, Booth-Butterfield said. Students will learn how to organize and present health communication topics before audiences, be they professional groups or grade school youngsters.

The Web site and the classes are about communication,she said.If you effectively communicate good health, people will want to change their behaviors for the better. Theyll live longer and theyll be happier.

Booth-Butterfield may be contacted through the Web site. You can also reach her at melanie.booth-butterfield@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-3905.

In 2003, John McConnell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Worthington Industries Inc, established the Peggy Rardin McConnell Chair in Speech Communication in honor of his late wife, a 1946 speech graduate of WVU .

The Department of Communication Studies is in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.