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Contest challenges middle school kids to promote healthy living


Linda Geist
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9185

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014

Story source:

Donna Mehrle, 573-884-0929

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A statewide contest challenges middle school children to create a poster, short video or catchy slogan promoting exercise and healthy eating.

The Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition (MoCAN) and University of Missouri Extension are sponsoring the Youth Media Contest.

Donna Mehrle, MU Extension nutrition and exercise physiology associate, said the contest is especially important because 31 percent of adolescent Missouri children are overweight or obese, according to the Missouri Foundation for Health.

The contest is open to youth ages 11-14. The top prize is a $500 Amazon gift card. Second place is a $300 gift card and third place is a $100 gift card. Winning students also will earn prizes in the same amount for their school.

“Through our work, we’ve seen that students really are motivated by other youth, and they have their own ideas about how to talk to their peers,” said Jon Stemmle, MOCAN chair and co-director of the MU Health Communication Research Center. “That’s why contests like these are so important. Not only do they get the students excited, but they give the students a real voice too. When they design their own messages they’ll likely resonate with other youth as well.”

Jen Hadler, a middle school health and physical education teacher in Kirkwood School District, is using the contest to give her class hands-on experience.

"My students are so excited to turn what they've learned about physical activity and nutrition into videos for this contest,” said Hadler. “I'm just as excited about showing the videos off to their classmates. Who better to learn from than their peers?”

Deadline for the contest is April 25. For more information, go to

About MoCAN

Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition (MoCAN) is a coalition comprising representatives from state and local agencies, institutions, organizations, other coalitions and individuals who work together to advance the goals and objectives of the statewide initiative “Preventing Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases: Missouri’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan.”