Students get the word out about WEG

The organizers of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games have spent many dollars to get the word out about the two-week event, using sophisticated marketing plans, expensive "branding" consultants and any number of pricey advertisements.

But some of the most effective — and least expensive — publicity might be in the hands of a group of 9- and 10-year-old girls from Scott County.

Those fourth- and fifth-graders from Western Elementary in Georgetown decided to use a school technology project to explain, highlight and advertise the Games to kids around the state, country and overseas.

The presentation, by six girls in breeches and boots, led them to win the regional contest of the Kentucky Student Technology Leadership Program.

On Thursday, they came to Lexington for the state contest and won again. On June 28, they will head to Washington, D.C., to show off their presentation with elementary school winners from every other state in the country.

"This is very, very exciting," said adviser Angie Howard, a special-education teacher at Western. "These girls have worked so hard."

The group got the idea because they think Georgetown will be a focal point for the Games, which will be Sept. 25 to Oct. 10, 2010. A couple of the girls have ridden horses, but most knew next to nothing about the equestrian world championships.

"More people need to find out about this, and if they can't come here, then we have to bring it to them," said Ivy O'Shaughnessy, a fifth-grader peeking out under a black velvet helmet.

Each girl researched two of the eight disciplines of the Games. Kacey Daley, for example, looked up reining and endurance riding.

"I didn't know that Arabian horses are preferred for that because they have more ability," the fifth-grader said.

Ally Blythe looked up driving and a history of the Games.

"The Games have never left Europe before now," she said.

That was an important point for the students. They wanted Americans to find out about the Games, bit it was important to make sure Europeans knew they should come see them here in Kentucky. So the girls used Skype, a service that uses webcams to talk live over the Internet, to connect with students in Ireland, England and Germany.

Then they wrote scripts for a newscast and used Green Screen technology to appear in front of London's Big Ben to deliver their pitch.

Kids from other schools sent questions, such as how many people will be coming? (Half a million, according to the girls.) And on May 27, the group will hold a live video conference with five other schools and Becky Jordan, a WEG board member.

They also plan to broadcasting live from the Games as they take place. Until then, World Games organizers might want to hire them.

"The most important thing that people need to know," said Saoirse McEntee, a fourth-grader who already is an expert on branding, "is that Kentucky is the horse capital of the world, and it's cool to host the World Equestrian Games."