|Smart Bodies visits parish schools|
In an effort to combat childhood obesity, the LSU AgCenter and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana have teamed up to bring the interactive education program known as "Smart Bodies" to students across Louisiana.
The program integrates classroom activities with a hands-on approach to teach young children how to build strong bodies and develop active minds by focusing on healthy eating habits and physical exercise.
"It's a fun way to teach children about healthy behaviors in a way that they can understand," said John Albarado, Body Walk manager.
Sponsored by a $1.8 million grant through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of La., the interactive exhibit will visit 100 Louisiana schools per year over a five year period. The program is a join venture with the LSU AgCenter, which facilitates the parish-wide program.
Smart Bodies recently made stops at four schools in Franklin Parish. In conjunction with the 21st Century after-school program, Baskin, Crowville, Fort Necessity and Gilbert schools hosted the one-day field trip on their campuses. Students in kindergarten through fifth grades learned the benefits of good nutrition and fitness by traveling through a 35-foot by 45-foot walk-through exhibit representing the human body.
"We are so excited to have the students participate in this great program," said Terri Crawford, local LSU AgCenter extension agent.
As the tour progresses from the brain to the small intestines, students stop at 11 eleven stations to explore various organs, including the heart, stomach, and lungs. Beta Club and Junior Beta Club members assisted at each station to inform students about nutrients as they are absorbed in the body and the benefits of exercise.
"The Organ Wise Guys" are a group of characters that help children understand the curriculum aspect of the program. Through books, games, dolls and informational videos, characters such as Hardy Heart, the Kidney Brothers and Windy the Lungs represent organs which reside inside of a doll named Little Organ Annie or Little Organ Andy.
Another aspect of the program, Take 10!, is designed to be used as an educational tool in the classroom. Students participate in short bouts of physical activity integrated with academic lessons as a part of their daily routine.
According to statistics offered by Smart Bodies Program Coordinator Denise M. Holston of the LSU AgCenter, childhood obesity has doubled in the past 20 years, and almost one in three Louisiana school-aged children is overweight or obese. However, the research on prevention is "encouraging," she added.
"When children establish good nutrition and exercise habits while young, they have a better chance of keeping those healthy behaviors," Holston said.
Without the help of the support personnel from each school, this would not have been possible. Beta Club members from Franklin Parish High School and Junior Beta Club members from Fort Necessity and Gilbert schools assisting with the Smart Bodies program were,
Zach Hughes, Nikki Breedlove, Emily Roberts, Logan Clark, Chelsea Thomas, Trey Wilson, Damian Hooker, Rebecca Jenkins, Jacie Turner
Brendolyn Johnson, Destiny Dumas, Victoria Ulmer, Erin Young, Ellen Lee, Regan Arender, Nick Marchand, Chelsey Campbell, Kristyn Newman, Ryan Lloyd, Cara Watson and Blake Williams of FPHS; Claire Johnston, Sarah Ford, Hannah Parks, Macy Travis, DeAndre McCarthy, Cole Cureington, Terrell Spann, Caleb Smith, Aaron Monnin, Jake Monnin, Kelsey McDaniel, and Jessica Plater Cassie Canada of Fort Nessesity School; Nate Roberts ,Makayla Roberts, Jerrett Markey, Kristen Watson, Jean'e Barlow, Jessica Dunaway, Lindsey Robbins, Hunter Walker, Emily Martin, and Hannah Jemerson of Gilbert School.
Principals, assistant principals, support staff and many helpers assisted organizers make this program such a great success.