An elementary school teacher promoting good nutrition will only get so far with lectures and quizzes. Children learn best when they actively participate in what they are learning. That's why Ann Cohen, associate state nutrition specialist developed Body Walk, a larger-than-life rendition of the human body that travels the state promoting healthy lifestyle choices. The 25 X 30-foot exhibit teaches two overall lessons:
"Body Walk was designed to give elementary school
students a unique, memorable and exciting way to learn about the
importance of eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and
making other healthy lifestyle choices," says Cohen, Body
Walk director. "It's an active way to show children how the
foods they choose affect their health."
Before entering Body Walk's giant mouth, students put on food tags designating them as different food items, from a carrot to a hamburger. From the mouth, where lessons focus on the first step of digestion and the importance of good dental health, students proceed down the esophagus to the stomach. From there, they travel to the small intestine and on to the heart, muscles, bones, lungs, skin and brain.
At each station, a volunteer presenter involves the students in a five-minute activity focused on healthy choices, from building strong bones to protecting skin from the sun.
The ribbon is cut at the Body Walk's debut. Among those
celebrating are Gov. Mel Carnahan, center, and
interim vice provost for extension Don Fancher, at left.
Body Walk was designed to support and enhance elementary
school teachers' efforts in helping students learn how their
bodies work and how to keep them healthy. Teachers are given
classroom activities and resources to help introduce health
concepts, prepare the students for the Body Walk visit, and
reinforce and extend the experience.
Extension nutrition specialists throughout the state are key in making Body Walk happen, says Cohen. They work with school coordinators to train volunteer presenters and provide nutrition education resources to teachers.
The secret to Body Walk's success is fun. At the exhibit's kick off in Jefferson City, a group of fifth-grade girls squealed as they were instructed to take their shoes off and head for the mouth. They ambled to each station and before they knew it, they had learned that the intestine is about 20 feet long and foods high in Vitamin C help heal scrapes, cuts and bruises.
Students at Lawson Elementary School in Jefferson City
visit the Body Walk's hands on stations.
While the Body Walk is a delight for youngsters, it's also a
testament to the power of sharing resources. Nearly $150,000 was
raised through private businesses and not-for-profit agencies.
The program was developed by the Missouri Governor's Council on
Physical Fitness and Health and is being managed by the MU's
Extension Nutrition program.
During the 1995-96 school year, the Body Walk coordinator will take the traveling exhibit in a 14-foot van to 80 schools in 37 cities.