POINT PLEASANT — Around 800 local students recently attended the 2012 Mason County Youth Expo on March 21 and 22 at the National Guard Armory in Point Pleasant, and is sure to continue as one of the highlight events of the year.
Sponsored by Pleasant Valley Hospital (PVH), the Mason County Outdoor Youth Expo works to promote awareness of positive, safe, and drug-free recreational activities for students, families, and communities. Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students from Point Pleasant Intermediate School, and New Haven, Ashton, Leon, Roosevelt, and Beale Elementary schools all attended the expo to experience the various booths and activities. There were numerous prizes given away including items like a croquet set, sleeping bags, footballs and basketballs, fishing poles, and several bicycles, and outside activities including horseback riding, a potato sack race, and a water balloon toss.
Also featured at the expo were ventriloquist Mark Wade, and special guest Choosy. Choosy, which stands for Choose Healthy Options Often and Start Young, is a health messenger who works to remind children and adults to “Be Choosy, Be Healthy.” He reminds them to be particular when it comes to what they eat and what they do, like eating fruits and vegetables and playing outside.
Another popular activity at the expo was PVH’s coloring contest. Students were previously given a coloring sheet of the special guest, Choosy, but were not told who it was. They had to use their imaginations to figure out what color he was. Tracy Call with PVH stated the competition was very tough, and several PVH doctors and nurses had the difficult decision of selecting the winners. A winner was selected from every grade level from every school, and three county winners were also chosen. For the county, the winners were as follows: 4th grade, Abby Taylor from New Haven Elementary; 5th grade, Chloe Jones from Point Pleasant Intermediate; and 6th grade, Johnnie Board from New Haven Elementary.
While it may seem like an event like this just comes together, there is a committee of several people who worked to plan and organize everything in this year’s expo. Several members of the committee stated this event first started in 2000, and was originally planned as a one-time thing. But following the success of that expo, they decided to do it again, and is now in its 13th year. This year’s committee includes Leigh Ann Shepard, Nicole Leport, Paul Nichols, George Shell, Rodney Wallbrown, Lorrie Wright, Dave McClung, Randy Searls, Georgianna Tillis, Tina Whitt, Greg Martin, Jack Cullen, Bail Stewart, Jason Schultz, and Ed Lowe.
The committee also said the purpose of the expo is to show kids several activities that can be pursued outdoors and the numerous benefits they can have, and they encourage any organization that is related to the outdoors to come in and promote what they do. The date for next year’s expo is tentatively set for March 20-21.
Displays and features at the expo included CareLink, Family Resource Network, Fowler’s Racing Camaro, French Art Colony, HealthNet, HJSHS SADD and RAZE, Kanawha Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Lego Robotics, Mason County CEOS, Mason County Tourism Center, Parker Compound Bows, Inc., Pleasant Valley Hospital, Point Pleasant River Museum, PPJSHS SADD Chapter, PRO program, RAZE/SAFE Drug Free Schools, River Works Discovery, Safe Harbor Farms, Skin Cancer Awareness, TIPS Program/St. Mary’s Medical Center, Tri-State Area Boy Scout of America, Tu-Endie-Wei State Park, Wildlife Taxidermy, WillPower Tumbling, WV American Lung Association, WV Department of Agriculture, WV Department of Agriculture Bee Inspector, WV National Guard, WV State Farm Museum, WV Stat Police, WV Tobacco Quitline, WVDNR- Wildlife Diversity Program, WVU Cardiac Project, and WVU Extension Service 4-H.
The committee also stated they are grateful for all those who set up booths for this year’s expo and helped contribute to making it a success once again.