Mississippi BodyWalk Blog

being smart from the inside out

Body Walk in Marshall and Benton Counties October 17, 2011

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In mid-October Body Walk traveled to Holly Springs to see 4th graders from Marshall and Benton counties. I worked with Janet Jolly, County Director for Marshall, Michael Pruitt, County Director for Benton, and Lemon Phelps, 4-H.


Students from 10 schools came to tour Body Walk. Despite the high number of schools, we saw only 530 students. In addition to the regular stops, the children enjoyed an exercise station and a stop at the Tobacco Free table. Lora Austin showed the children her giant Mr. Gross Mouth and talked to the students about all the dangers of smoking.


The students had a great time and really enjoyed their Body Walk experience.




A great location to set up.




Allied Health Volunteers



A poster of poison and below, a giant Mr. Gross Mouth.



Body Walk in Lawrence County, Monticello MS October 11, 2011

Body Walk started October with a trip to Lawrence County. I had been here two years ago so it was nice to set up in a place that was familiar. Being greeted by a giant Viking is hard to forget.

Blue Viking enjoys basketball and raiding books for knowledge!

Third through fifth graders from four schools came to Rod Paige Middle School to learn how to be smart from the inside out. Monticello Elementary, Rod Paige Middle School, New Hebron Attendance Center and Topeka Tilton Attendance Center brought their students to Body Walk. The kids loved it. Navleen Pittman booked it for her county. Members of the local National Guard helped set up. Every set up is different. If you want something set up FAST and RIGHT, I cannot recommend National Guard soldiers enough. With only five of them, me and a few other volunteers, we got everything done in record time. They had never seen Body Walk before, yet it went up as if they did it every day.

All set up, volunteers in place, ready for the students!

The students and teachers from each of the four schools went through the 10 stations, learning how to keep their brain, mouth, stomach, small intestine, heart, lungs, bones, muscles, and skin healthy. They had many questions, which our adult volunteers enjoyed answering for them. They children were curious and smart. Many had been learning some of what was covered inside the Body Walk in their classrooms. When quizzed at the end, most said they were going to play more, and drink more water and milk. They weren’t as sure about eating more raw veggies, but it’s hard to change habits overnight. The seeds for healthy choices were planted.

Drink water!

Next up, Marshall County

Eat fruits and veggies to grow up strong!


Body Walk in Hinds County, Jackson

University of Mississippi, School of Nursing Student volunteers

Body Walk traveled to Hinds County in Mississippi. There, we set up the exhibit at the First Presbyterian Day School. We saw over 500 K-5th grade students. The presenters inside the stations were students from the University of MS School of Nursing. They are in an accelerated program where they get a degree in 15 months instead of the more usual two years. They all did a phenomenal job. Since so many of them came, they got to take turns inside the room, one talking while the other handled the props. This was a big help since working inside the Body Walk means talking a lot. They got to rest their voices from time to time. The result was the enthusiasm they had in the morning was still going strong by days end.

Rocheryl Ware booked Body Walk for her county. Other Extension employees on hand to help make the day a success were Theresa Hand, County Director, and Melissa Morgan, 4-H. Principal Gary Harring was on hand most of the day and he even toured with his grandson’s group. Checking on them from time to time, the smile on his face said he enjoyed the trip. Dr. Tina Martin, Instructor from the University of MS School of Nursing and Paula Clark, Assistant Director of Curriculum also helped make the day a success.

The kids started inside the head tent where they learned about their brain and how to keep it healthy. They learned to wear a helmet, eat breakfast, and that if their brain is healthy, then probably the rest of their body is also healthy. The best way to have a healthy brain is to make smart choices.

After the brain, they went into the mouth station. Here they got to sit on a tooth. The presenters let them brush the teeth, and use white nylon rope as dental floss to brush the teeth. The kids loved it. There is a huge tongue outside the mouth station which shows where on the tongue flavors are strongest. One boy, seeing the tongue across the room before he started his tour had a question, “Is anything gonna taste us?”

Keeping the smile bright takes brushing and flossing.

In the stomach, the presenters showed the children many food models of healthy food, and the proper portion of the healthy food. They taught them about digestion and how while a lot of digestion happens in the stomach, it’s not completed there. After they ‘churned’ in the stomach, the left for the small intestine.

Fill your stomach with healthy foods in proper portion.

In the intestine, the children were ‘absorbed’ by the villi into the blood stream. They learned how long a person’s intestine are on average (22 feet) and why it is so very important to drink eight glasses of water a day. The children were thrilled to meet Kid and Sid Kidney in the small intestine room. From there, they went to the heart.

Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

The heart room is not normally THE student favorite, but that was not the case this time around. When the students saw the Red Queen, they got so excited! They wanted to hear everything she had to tell them. The Red Queen is the queen of hearts and her goal was for them all to have a healthy heart for all of their lives. The students learned about eating fruits, veggies, and lean meat. They learned they should avoid friend food, or food full of butter or oil.

The Queen of Hearts (and her Ladies in Waiting) want everyone to have a healthy heart!

The lung room focuses on a different healthy behavior and that’s not smoking or using smokeless tobacco. There’s not a strong emphasis on diet in this room. The presenters did a great job showing the lung models, a healthy pink lung and a diseased black lung. They led the students in breathing through a straw to simulate emphysema. They talked about how important healthy lungs are to sports and regular play. The presenters had unflagging energy for promoting pink lungs.

Black lungs are sad lungs

In the bone room, they students got to put together a bone puzzle, ‘meet’ Calci M. Bone, and learn why the volunteers were dressed as construction workers. Strong bones build strong bodies of course!

Strong bones are the foundation of a strong healthy body

The numbers of muscles in the body is just one thing the elementary tourists learned in their travels through the body. In the muscle room, they learned how without muscles, they wouldn’t be able to move. The men in this room showed them models so they would know what fat versus muscle looks like and feels like. They talked about what foods build strong muscles and what foods, or non-foods (sugar, oil) build fat.

636 muscles in the body

In the last room of the tour, the students learned about proper handwashing and how easy it is to spread germs. The nursing students told them how important sunscreen is, no matter your age, and how wearing a hat is always a good idea. Most of the children didn’t even realize that skin is an organ of the body. After listening to the presenters, they now know it is the biggest organ of the body.

Wear a hat in the sun, and wash your hands often.

After going through all the rooms, the students reviewed everything they learned in the Pathway of Life. From here, they went back to their classroom to put their shoes back on. Each student got a sticker after their trip and a Body Walk activity book with lessons that reinforced everything they learned in the exhibit.

Overall, the students came out knowing much more than when they went in. They had so much fun learning, most of them didn’t even realize they had learned something. Not only the students learned though. Many parent volunteers went through with their child’s class and they were overheard to express something they learned from the Body Walk. Great volunteers make a great program. This trip to First Presbyterian was great.

Next up, Lawrence County.


Body Walk in Smith County, Mize October 10, 2011

The next stop for Body Walk was in Mize Mississippi, at the Smith County Ag Complex. This was a great facility. It was HUGE inside which was ideal since the students were being bussed to the exhibit and they needed plenty of room to sit and wait their turn to go through.

The whole exhibit from the front.

Students came from Raliegh Elementary, Mize Attendance Center, and Taylorsville Elementary. Our volunteers were Red Cross volunteers and Allied health students from Raliegh high school. The Allied Health Instructor was Michelle Austin. Sue Rogers, 4-H, booked Body Walk for her county. Helping her were, Doris Boykin and Liz Easterling, both Nutrition Educators, Jeremy Manness, County Director, Angela Lott and Martha Smith, both with Farm Bureau, and superintendent of Education for Smith County, Jimmy Hancock. They all were a great help to make the event a success.

We saw over 500 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students.  The first day, the children arrived before our volunteers. Luckily, Doris had an unlimited supply of songs. She led the kids in a 15 chorus version of ‘Old McDonald’ while we waited for the high schoolers to arrive, then get settled in their stations. The kids loved singing and making the animal noises while they waited.

"Old McDonald had a ..."

Soon the singing was over and it was time to start the tour. The kids began in the giant head where they were greeted by Sir Rebrum. From there, they went into the mouth where they go to sit on a tooth and use a giant toothbrush. From there, they traveled to eight other stations. They were greeted in each room by an Organwise Guy who told them how to keep their lungs, their muscles, or their heart healthy. When they finished the tour, they got a sticker and an activity book which reinforced everything they learned on the tour.

Shrek? Uncle Kenny? NO. It's our giant brain tent, where Sir Rebrum tells you how to keep your brain healthy.

Going in the mouth, sitting on a tooth.

Everyone did a great job to make the Body Walk a success. When it was all over, I drove the truck into the Ag Center. We took everything down, loaded the truck, and I drove out. 🙂


Body Walk in Desoto County, Lewisburg

Body Walk keeps traveling on. A recent stop was in DeSoto County at Lewisburg Elementary and Primary. Here over 1000 K-5th grade came to learn how to be smart from the inside out. This was a great school, with great help, and the BEST librarian keeping us all on track. Judi Stewart says “Lewisburg is the best,” and I think she knows what she’s talking about.

Elementary students love theme days, and Body Walk was there during theme week, when every day was something new. Monday was Miss-Match Day, Tuesday was Senior Citizen Day, Wednesday was “When I Grow Up”, and Thursday was Favorite Team Day. Friday was Spirit Day, but I didn’t see it because by Friday, Body Walk was headed somewhere new.  Every day, many of the students came to Body Walk in costume. Depending on the day, we say little girls with grey hair and curlers, and little boys as hockey, football, baseball, or basketball players. We saw plaids and stripes paired with polka-dot socks. We say a young businessman who was a Blues Brother, he just didn’t realize it.

Jessica Lindsey, 4-H booked Body Walk for her county. She was ably assisted each day by Amye Zwerschke, 4-H, Joy Anderson, County Director, and Paula Moore, Extension Program Associate. Set up, station volunteers, and the take down crew were all adult volunteers. Many were parents or grandparents. Every day we had adult volunteers inside the stations. They all did a great job, but one man stood out about the rest. The first day he came, he was in the bone station, but his talents were wasted in just one room. The next day, he was in the Pathway of Life. He is one of the best volunteers I have every heard. He got FULLY into the spirit of Body Walk. He had something unique to say about each banner. He quizzed the kids and they were quick to call out the correct answers. They were breathing deep for the lung review, and flexing their arm muscles for the muscle review. The kids were laughing and learning. It was the PERFECT review to the Body Walk experience.

Pathway of Life for MS Body Walk

The Primary school is on the same campus as the elementary. The building was brand new, still in its first year of use. The gym is a half gym, so the BW was a tight fit, but we made it work.  Luckily, the kids were able to take their shoes off in the hall. I learned a new version of ‘criss-cross applesauce.’ At Lewisburg, they say ‘criss-cross apple sauce, spoons in the bowl.’ So cute! So effective!

Hanging signs in the hall where the students took their shoes off. These went through an alphabet of encouragement.

The tongue is licking the stage. Yummy 😉

Each school has its own unique features and Lewisburg was no different in this regard. They have an outdoor classroom. There are benches, tables, and a little gazebo. There is a hummingbird feeder, and planters. It is a lovely spot, ideal for sitting and reading, or sitting in a group and listening to a story.

The sign above the door going to the Outdoor Classroom

Look at that little girl reading statue. I LOVE it!

Pretty. The hummingbirds think so too.

Come sit and listen while I read you a story of the Organwise Guys.

Combating Mississippi’s obesity epidemic is going to take the work of everyone. I had a chance to talk to one of the cafeteria ladies. At Lewisburg, they serve whole grains three times a week. They serve raw veggies three times a week and they bake foods instead of frying anything. These are all great steps. The lunch tasted really great to me. When children have a healthy nutritious lunch, they learn that food good for them can taste great.

Body Walk teaches kids how to be healthy from the inside out. Making smart food and beverage choices is just part of what we cover inside the Body Walk. It is one part of the overall health message we bring to children the children of Mississippi. This trip to Lewisburg was the BEST!