Wright and Tallulah Elementary School students had the unique experience of being “digested” through the human body at the Smart Bodies Body Walk. On Thursday and Friday, February 21 and 22, more than 900 students toured the traveling exhibit that visits elementary schools throughout Louisiana.
Through a hands-on approach, the Body Walk teaches children healthy habits, such as choosing nutritious foods, by showing them how their choices affect their body. The Louisiana Body Walk is one of three components of Smart Bodies, a comprehensive health program that provides nutrition education and promotes increased physical activity. The Smart Bodies Program is entering its eighth year, and continues to travel to schools statewide through a joint effort by the LSU AgCenter and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.
“Body Walk engages students by showing them how to be healthy by eating nutritionally sound food and participating in regular physical activity. By being actively involved, students remember the recommended behaviors and encourage friends and family to be healthy as well,” said Karol Osborne, LSU AgCenter Extension 4-H Agent.
The Smart Bodies Program was developed to address increasing national concerns about the lack of physical activity and the declining nutritional status of young children. In Louisiana, childhood obesity has doubled in the past 20 years, and almost one in three school-aged children is overweight or obese.
The Body Walk tour features a multi-station tour of the body including the brain, My Plate food choices, mouth, stomach, small intestine, heart, lungs, bones, muscles, and skin.
“The children love the Body Walk because they learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices in a fun way. Since teachers have begun using Smart Bodies activities in the classroom, it’s a great way to introduce the Organwise characters and increase enthusiasm for the program,” said Osborne. “We also appreciate the support of our school volunteers and the community organizations that assisted with the exhibit and made the Body Walk and the overall Smart Bodies Program possible.”
Serving as the Body Walk School Coordinators were Tillie Smith (Wright Elementary) and Myra Harris (Tallulah Elementary,). Their responsibilities included working with principals, teachers and staff to develop a class schedule, bus transportation and lunchroom schedule. We also appreciate the careful attention of the bus drivers and teachers in working to make this event possible.
Many community volunteers served as station presenters during the two-day event. Both morning shifts featured nursing students from the Tallulah campus of Delta Community College, coordinated by Felicia Lloyd. The students participating were: Charolett Hopkins, Kyle Erwin, Haley Nettles, Darcia Jackson, Melinda Watkins, Nikki Everett, Victoria Scott, Ramona Smith, Brittnay Cobbs, Tiffany Patterson, Whitney Forsse, and Annie Robinson. On Friday, LSU AgCenter Nutrition Educators from East Carroll Parish, Dorris Thompson, Mary Reed, Patricia Johnikin and Grace Siggers joined forces with us to serve as station presenters. Other community volunteers were on hand to man a station and keep the Body Walk moving through the morning and afternoon shifts. Special thanks to Sarah Sims, Sonja Kinsey, Joyce Williams, Berteal Rogers, Lisa Crockett, Ericka Sims, Brittny Sims, Irma Green, Beverly McGowan, Bertha Barnett and Rosie Butler.
“Serving the community is an important part of 4-H leadership and citizenship training,” according to Osborne, “and our teens work hard all year supporting community events like the Body Walk.” Madison 4-H Teen Leaders worked as group escorts and helpers, with several taking part as station presenters and assistants throughout the event. Madison High School Teen 4-H Leaders participating were: Darvella Robinson, Andrea Dudley, Zakkirra Smith, Tamaria NcNeal, Kiara Farmer, Agape Skinner, Malik Phillips, Gwendolyn Hall, Barron Stewart, and Hope Travis.
Additional support was provided by the City of Tallulah and Mr. Carlos Ford through use of the Tallulah Community Center. Monetary donations from the Mayor’s Office and Doug’s IGA provided for supplies and refreshments for station presenters during the two-day event. Madison Parish Detention Center assisted with assembling and disassembling the large exhibit.