Business helps kids choose health
Offers ways to promote exercise and nutrition
Years ago, then-WVU professor Linda Carson created a lovable character named Choosy to encourage healthy habits in her kids’ programs on campus.
That character has since become the namesake for Carson’s Morgantown-based business, Choosy Kids LLC, which provides resources to help parents, teachers and others nationwide promote healthy behaviors. Carson said Choosy — a green “health hero” with a football-shaped head and purple cape — has now reached an estimated 3 million to 5 million children.
“Rather than a professor influencing a classroom, I’ve been very, very fortunate to be able to be influencing classrooms on a much larger scale,” she said.
Choosy Kids launched as a business in 2006, when Carson was invited to join WVU’s Business Incubator. The program aims to spur economic development by providing support for small businesses.
Carson said her venture was successful because Choosy Kids provides music, products and training that are in demand.
“The health of children is current now, and it was 10 years ago, when we were [first] doing this,” Carson said. “The market was there, the ideas I think are unique and novel, and I was very pleased to be able to be in West Virginia and have a product and resources that were needed all over the country. We are a small company, but we have a huge footprint nationally.”
Choosy Kids’ Collins Ferry Road office serves as headquarters for product development and distribution, planning meetings and other administrative functions. In addition to developing music, books, dolls, posters and other resources, Carson said Choosy Kids provides training for child educators across the country.
Christy Hughes, director and owner of Country Kids Daycare in Belle, W.Va., said Choosy has inspired change among her pre-K students. One boy went from eating mostly “Doritos, Skittles and chocolate” to “eating everything because Choosy said it was healthy,” she said.
“I don’t know why it works, but it does,” Hughes said. “If Choosy says to do it, they do it.”
Carson said Choosy Kids’ materials work because they’re based on scientific research.
“There is such a thing as ‘stuck song syndrome,’ and companies use it for marketing,” she said, citing commercial jingles as one example. “We use that to our advantage by embedding health messages in lively music that is appealing.”
Research also shows characters like Choosy are highly influential.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a good, recognizable health hero whose messages are about healthy habits and healthy behaviors, so we think that Choosy’s meeting a need,” Carson said. “I think all parents and grown-ups would want children to have a positive role model as they’re developing their preferences.”
Office address: 3160 Collins Ferry Road