Young families are target of healthy messages being rolled out in three counties

BARBOUR COUNTY, W.Va. — A project aimed at developing healthy habits in West Virginia’s kids is taking a different form this year in three counties: Barbour, Gilmer and Pleasants.

Since the start of January, the West Virginia Healthy Children Project has been rolling out an educational advertising campaign, the “Choose To Change” campaign, in those areas specifically for parents of children between the ages of two and five.

“We’re hoping that working with young families and establishing those healthy habits, they’ll carry them on — for the adults and the kids as well,” said Dr. Emily Murphy, obesity prevention specialist with the WVU Extension Service.

Choosy, a health hero mascot representing the acronym Choose Healthy Options Often and Start Young, is featured in the campaign and can be seen on social media along with at doctor offices, WIC locations, health departments and grocery stores in the three counties.

From now through September, Choosy will be promoting at least two hours of physical activity each day for kids, a minimum of five servings per day of fruits and vegetables in a range of colors and being active outside with family members.

“It’s really a partnership between the university and the communities. The communities are really helping us plan and implement this at all levels,” Murphy said of the 4th year for the Healthy Children Project that was initially launched with early child care providers.

“They are getting it,” Murphy said of the results prior to this latest phase which is taking the lessons on health out into community locations.

“I think that carrying this over to the community is kind of going to be a reminder for families.”

Grant money from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding the project which has brought together WVU Extension Service, WV Prevention Research Center, Choosy Kids and the CDC.

The three counties could just be the start, Murphy said.

“We’re hoping that we can actually replicate this in different counties through the infrastructure that we already have in our state,” she told MetroNews.

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