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Video Contest Focuses on Getting Healthy

Feb. 24, 2009 — First lady Cecile deJongh is offering V.I. students in grades 7 though 10 a chance to try out their video skills in an initiative aimed at improving the territory's overall health.
All V.I. residents — other students, parents, anyone with a desire to support the project — can get into the act, too: They will get to do the online judging.
"Healthy VI Challenge" is an effort to raise awareness of health issues territory-wide through a video contest. DeJongh has partnered with ourstage.com, an online video promoter, to host the contest, which is open to all public- and private-school students.
Students may submit their videos in the format of public service announcements (PSAs), a commercial, a news broadcast, a talk show, music video or short play, as long as they are no longer than 60 seconds. The videos are a team effort; student teams must be a minimum of two and a maximum of five.
While the contest provides an opportunity for youngsters to play a creative role in the community by encouraging healthy living habits, students may enrich their bank accounts, as well. First- and second-place winners for public schools and first- and second-place winners for private and parochial schools will be announced May 31, with cash awards of $750 going to the first-place team members and $1,250 going to the winning school. Second-place team members will get $375, with $625 going to the winning school. The deadline for submissions is April 22.
Students may log onto ourstage.com/go/healthyusvi to review contest rules and regulations, as well as examples of winning entries from similar competitions. The website is also where interested residents may view the videos and cast a vote.
As part of this effort, deJongh has organized a committee of local experts on nutrition, health and wellness to address the complex challenges associated with these issues.
"As a society we often face challenges in following a proper diet and exercise program due to our own busy schedules," deJongh said, according to a news release. "The Healthy VI Challenge initiative utilizes the guidance of local experts to engage the community in various mediums. We hope to elevate the conversation territory-wide on smart nutritional choices and balanced living."
DeJongh has emphasized a healthy diet at the governor's Christmas parties, where she replaced cookies and candy with fresh fruit and juices, along with turkey or cheese sandwiches, which the children have happily gobbled up.
School principals and administrative officers were contacted in January, and the response has been positive.
"The principals are very excited about coordinating the contest with the students," said Julia Watthey, Government House spokeswoman, on Tuesday. The student teams will be helped by professional media resources, Watthey said.
Ourstage has worked successfully with first ladies from Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina on similar efforts. The winning videos will be featured on local television and radio stations.
"With this contest, we hope to spur excitement and creativity in our students, and challenge them to speak to these issues by providing informational, educational or entertaining videos for the benefit of the general community," deJongh said.
The first lady stressed the contest is "an opportunity for young people to creatively express themselves and to be recognized and rewarded for their efforts." She continued, "I look forward to viewing the students' videos."
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