POINT PLEASANT — Holding a snake, being in a “car crash,” and dancing with a fuzzy health messenger were all a part of the Mason County Youth Expo, held Wednesday and concluding today at the National Guard Armory near Point Pleasant.
The event promotes outdoor opportunities for students in fourth through sixth grades, as well as safety and healthy choices. Students from New Haven Elementary and Point Pleasant Intermediate schools attended the expo the first day, while Leon, Ashton, Roosevelt and Beale are attending today.
The youngsters were entertained by popular ventriloquist Mark Wade, whose “friends” taught about good character. Fuzzy health messenger, “Choosy,” a part of the West Virginia company “Choosy Kids,” taught the children about a healthy lifestyle including eating the right foods and exercising.
The students also had the chance to visit the many booths and exhibits set up by various businesses and organizations. Tours were given of a county ambulance, as well as a Health Net helicopter.
Flower gardening, learning about the snakes of West Virginia, and attracting the endangered Monarch butterflies were all outdoor activities featured. Professional fisherman Mark Wright was on hand to teach a little about his sport, as was Gabe Roush, who promoted bicycling and the Point Pleasant Bike Trail.
The Washington Works plant had a popular outdoor exhibit with its “Seatbelt Convincer.” Students rode in the seat down a sloped track, which then gave a jolting stop, simulating a car crash at a speed of five- to seven-miles-per-hour.
Older students took the initiative to teach younger ones on the dangers of tobacco use, drinking alcohol, and drug abuse. Among them were the Wahama and Hannan chapters of Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.), and Andrea’s Army, who teach the lessons in memory of their friend, the late Andrea Bailes.
Prizes were also awarded to lucky ticket holders, including bicycles, fishing poles, camping equipment, balls and other outdoor activities.
Randy Searls is emcee of the event, with Pleasant Valley Hospital serving as the corporate sponsor. A local planning committee is made up of Superintendent Jack Cullen, Dave McClung, George Shell, Greg Martin, Joann Cullen, Leigh Ann Shepard, Lorrie Wright, Nicole Leport, Paul Nichols, Randy Searls, Rodney Wallbrown, Jason Schultz, Tracy Call, Annee Carman, and Ed Lowe.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for OVP, email her at email@example.com.