Children from the Shack Neighborhood House After School program got a taste of what it means to be a Mountaineer athlete at a one-of-a-kind hour of power.
Organized by the "Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer" campaign, the Mini Day of Play event is a way to get children in the Morgantown area moving and motivated.
The event, which was originally delayed due to inclement weather, was bustling with kids eager to show off their sporting skills. Children ages six through 12 participated in an array of football-inspired games, such as a ball-catching circuit and an agility course.
Kids got an extra push from a few special guests in attendance. West Virginia University football players and cheerleaders joined in on the after-school fun.
The Mini Day of Play is an idea formed in part by students in Elizabeth Oppe’s strategic communications capstone course and is all part of their effort to get Morgantown’s youth living active, healthy lifestyles.
"It was my idea to have the Mini Day of Play to promote the Big Day of Play," Oppe said. "After-school programs really love the idea of having these activities, especially with WVU cheerleaders or football players or athletes."
Oppe hopes the Mini Day of Play will inspire more of Morgantown’s youth to get amped up about in the "Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer" main event in March.
"Today we had a football toss – the kids tossed the balls through hula hoops," said Molly Higgins, a senior WVU student in Oppe’s capstone class. "The football players had them run little football drills and do a few other games."
Football players weren’t the only ones who got hands-on at the kickstarter event. Students from the WVU Reed College of Media prepared for the Mini Day of Play behind the scenes.
"We have tried to put together the games that they played," Higgins said. "We are working on the events and the media aspects of it, like the public relations. We have a fundraising team and a research team – basically covering every aspect that goes into it to make sure the event is fun and brings everyone together."
Although the "Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer" campaign has clearly made a positive impression on its volunteers, it is the community who has truly seen an impact.
"We are sending (the kids) home with a take-home bag with a water, a piece of food, an apple and flyer about March 6," Oppe said. "It’s free to the kids, and it will just be bigger than what we had here today."
Although turnout wasn’t quite what they had expected, organizers are optimistic about the success of Thursday’s event.
"I think we had about 20 or 25 (participants), and that was such a great experience for us," Oppe said. "But we also have a boy here, I believe his name is Jamie, that has gone to both years of Big Day of Play with "Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer," and he’s excited to come back this year."
The "Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer" Big Day of Play will be held from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, March 6 at the WVU Indoor Practice Facility. For more information on future "Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer" events, please visit http://umountaineers.com/.