The West Virginia Prevention Research Center (WVPRC), housed within the WVU School of Public Health, recently enlisted the help of fifth-grade students to inform the naming and branding of a new research project. One hundred twenty-five students from Mason-Dixon, North and Cheat Lake Elementary Schools participated in a poster contest. The winner, Caiden Hilley from Mason-Dixon Elementary School, accepted the first-place prize and went home with a new bicycle and helmet.

"I looked online and read some statistics about kids my age being inactive," Hilley explained. "My thoughts around creating the poster were that if kids could get up off of the couch, get outside, they could get fit."

Co-principal investigator of the project, Lesley Cottrell, Ph.D., said the idea to hold the poster contest came from a project team member who very kindly reminded the team of the importance to keep fifth-graders in mind when thinking of a name.

"The project is aimed at helping students maintain physical activity as they make the transition from elementary to middle school — a time when we see a decrease in sports and exercise among children," Cottrell noted. "The project will take place in the Mid-Ohio Valley region of the state and primarily focus on fifth-grade students."

Team member Leesa Prendergast was the mastermind behind the poster contest idea. Prendergast said she thought of the idea when the project team was attempting to come up with a name that would be appealing to young children, their parents and their teachers. "We needed a way to get the community involved and an avenue to tap into the minds of fifth-graders," she said.

The project team solicited its Community Partnership Board to vote on the posters and narrow them down to 10. The grand prize was a bicycle and a helmet and the top 10 winners' names and posters were published in The Dominion Post’s May 26th KidFo section.

Local Morgantown outdoor shop Pathfinder provided a bicycle and helmet for the winner. Owner Andy Brozik said the store was happy to team up with the WVPRC and provide a child with a bike.

When asked how he felt about winning, Hilley said, "I just hope that by winning this bicycle, I can show other kids how fun it is to get outside and be healthy."

The top 10 winners included Braden Coen and Karissa McCoy, Mason-Dixon Elementary; Gabe Christopher, Kyle Falconi, Paige Coen, and James, Cheat Lake Elementary; and Mathew Pechart, Allie Walker and Jonah Forinash, North Elementary School.

The WVPRC is a member of the Prevention Research Center’s Program, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cooperative agreement number 1-U48-DP-005004.