POINT PLEASANT — A day most elementary school intermediate students look forward to all year finally arrived this week – the Mason County Outdoor Youth Expo.
The expo began Tuesday and concluded Wednesday at the National Guard Armory. Sponsored by Pleasant Valley Hospital (PVH) and Mason County Schools, the event is attended by approximately 1,000 fourth, fifth and sixth grade students.
The goal of the expo, according to organizers, is to encourage youth participation in positive recreational activities; promote family bonding; enhance school, community and family collaboration; promote anti-drug and anti-violence attitudes; and provide positive role models for youth.
The first order, upon arrival, was for students to sit for the program, which featured three speakers.
The first, Doug Wood of Hurricane, spoke on “Enjoying West Virginia Outdoors.” Wood presented a slide show of popular outdoor activities, and gave students websites where they can find them. He told the children the Kanawha Trace site is partially located within Mason County, and is an area where overnight backpacking can take place. Trail building, swimming, kayaking, canoeing and fishing were among the other activities touched upon by Wood.
Gabe Roush, Athletic Trainer and Manager of Sports Medicine at PVH, got a big laugh from the students as he rode a 12-inch bike out among them, prior to a more serious presentation on bike safety. Roush talked about riding the proper size bike, as well as wearing a helmet that fits, and the correct shoes. He taught the “ABC’s” of bicycle maintenance, including air pressure in the tires, brakes that work properly, and chain tension.
Amy Mullins, Director of Rehabilitation at PVH, gave the children many ideas of activities, no matter their location. Driveway sports of basketball, jump rope, and hopscotch; yard sports of four square, cornhole and yoga; water sports of swimming, canoeing and kayaking; as well as many others, were shared.
Door prizes came next, with many outdoor games, balls and equipment given away. PVH gave out six bikes at each of the four sessions, a total of 12 to girls and 12 to boys.
Many groups, businesses, and organizations sat up booths and exhibits for the children to visit following the program. A few of the exhibitors were the Mason County EMS, with Hannah Parsons and Elisabeth Lloyd teaching hands-only CPR; participants of “Andrea’s Army,” who did face painting; Thomas Do-It Center, with the outdoor activity of gardening; and Mason County Schools, whose Title I program gave out free books. These were just a few examples of the many free activities and giveaways.
One exhibitor noticeably absent from the expo this year was Mark Wright, pro fisherman and Mason County Schools bus driver. Wright passed away in the past year, and Emcee Randy Searls asked students to participate in a moment of silence in his remembrance. Wright always brought his fishing boat to the expo, and donated fishing poles as door prizes. Searls said an anonymous donor contributed fishing poles this year in Wright’s memory to be given away.
The emcee also recognized PVH for giving $5,000 each year to the expo as the corporate sponsor, as well as Mason County Schools and the Mason County Board of Education. The expo was visited Tuesday morning by students from New Haven Elementary and Tuesday afternoon by Point Pleasant Intermediate School. Wednesday visits included students from Ashton and Leon in the morning session, and Wednesday afternoon, Roosevelt and Beale.