Mississippi BodyWalk Blog

being smart from the inside out

MOHCA–February is Oral Health Month February 8, 2013

This past Wednesday, I was invited by Gennette Robinson, MSDH/Oral Health Division,  to a learning lunch hosted by the Tombigbee Regional Chapter of MOHCA, the Mississippi Oral Health Community Alliance. Their mission is:

  • offer a comprehensive approach to improve the oral health status for Mississippians by serving as an advocate for optimal oral health
  • mobilize community partnerships between and among policy makers, state agencies, professionals, organizations, the public and other groups that are interested in improving oral health
  • develop plans and policies that improve oral health through a collaborative process; and
  • establish an oral health services infrastructure that assures the protection, promotion and provision of oral health care for all Mississippians.

The guest speaker at the lunch was Dr. Mary Huxford, a Pediatric Dentist. I really enjoyed hearing her speak and I learned a lot about children’s oral hygiene.

Dr. Huxford (in pink) explaining when children should see a dentist.

Dr. Huxford (in pink) explaining when children should see a dentist.

For example, in Body Walk, we teach children they should brush twice a day and floss. Our age group is K-5th grade. I learned that if our younger visitors, Kindergarten for example, are not able to tie their shoes yet, then their parents should still be helping them brush their teeth. This reason for this is shoe-tying is a fine motor skill. If a child has not mastered this skill, than he or she does not have the fine motor control to properly brush their teeth.

I also learned many reasons why young children might develop cavities. They are drinking to many sugar sweetened drinks, or too much juice. Even 100% fruit juice has fruit sugars in it. The recommenced daily amount for children who are still taking a bottle or sippy cup is 4 oz. Young children don’t brush and floss enough or properly. Parents should start wiping children’s teeth as soon as they have teeth.  A finger wrapped in a washcloth can be used to wipe out a child’s mouth. Another reason very young children might have cavities that become big problems is children don’t see the dentist early enough. Children as young as one should see a dentist.

MOCHA is promoting a Healthy Smile Campaign.  2×2=A Healthy Smile.  They want everyone to brush two times a day for two minutes each time. This is a great message and one that fits in well with the lessons in the mouth station of the Body Walk.  The script for Body Walk has children practice tooth brushing by using giant toothbrushes to brush teeth stools. They practice flossing by flossing between the teeth stools. The volunteer reading the script guides them in those activities and tells the children how often to brush and how to brush. The mouth station also has a prop called Mr. Gross Mouth so the children can see what happens when they never brush their teeth. Our goal is to get children to start (or continue) the healthy habit of brushing and flossing.

A presenter holding Mr. Gross Mouth while Cali M. Bone shows off her clean teeth.

A presenter holding Mr. Gross Mouth while Calci M. Bone shows off her clean teeth.

Proper brushing is essential to keeping a bright smile for life.

Proper brushing is essential to keeping a bright smile for life.

Going to the meeting was very educational. I am happy to work with others to expand our message and create healthier lives for Mississippi’s children.

Next up, A BIGGER SURPRISE.

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Body Walk in Fulton Mississippi

The last trip of January was to Itawamba county. Marie Rogers booked this trip for her county. I have been here several times before. It is always a good experience. Usually, the football team from Itawamba Community College helps with the set up. They were on hand and they did a great job. When there is A LOT of help with the set up, sometimes it is hard to organize, or have everyone listening when they need to. Not a problem this trip. The men had excellent listening and teamwork skills. We had the truck unloaded, and the whole thing set up in under an hour.

The next day, 300 third graders came to see the exhibit. We saw kids from five schools, Itawamba Attendance Center, Dorsey, Mantachie, Tremont, and Fairview. Our volunteers were allied health students and nursing students. They all did a great job making the material come to life for the students. The Allied health students gave out bookmarks, helped administer the quiz, and served at chaperones to the groups.  The nursing students were station presenters, led the kids in 10 minutes of dance while they waited their turn to tour, and were in charge of shoe wrangling.

Starting with the brain, because a healthy brain makes smart choices.

Starting with the brain, because a healthy brain makes smart choices.

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In the mouth they learn to brush twice a day and floss! How can you eat healthy food without teeth to chew it?

In the stomach, they learn about MyPlate. Half your plate should be fruits and vegetables!

In the stomach, they learn about MyPlate. Half your plate should be fruits and vegetables!

With intestines 22 ft long, it's a good thing they coil up so well in our bodies.

With intestines 22 ft long, it’s a good thing they coil up so well in our bodies.

Hardy Heart knows how to keep a heart healthy. Eat smart and play hard!

Hardy Heart knows how to keep a heart healthy. Eat smart and play hard!

Want healthy lungs for life? Don't smoke!

Want healthy lungs for life? Don’t smoke!

Everyone can have strong muscles. Use them- 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

Everyone can have strong muscles. Use them- 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

Keep your skin free of germs. Wash your hands often.

Keep your skin free of germs. Wash your hands often.

Allied Health

The Allied Health class.

Nursing students from ICC.

Nursing students from ICC.

The kids loved learning how to ‘be smart from the inside out’.  Everyone did a great job.

Next up, something different.

 

Body Walk in Horn Lake Mississippi February 5, 2013

January rolls on and so does the Body Walk. Next up for the education exhibit was a trip to Horn Lake MS in Desoto county. Going go Desoto is always nice. Jessica Lindsey is great to work with. She is organized and efficient. Organized and efficient are two of my favorite words. We saw just under 600 students, K-2nd.

Horn Lake Elementary

Horn Lake Elementary

At this school, the station presenters were the same people every day. This was nice because once they had been through the script a few times, they had the information down pat. They could then put the script down and be more relaxed with the kids. They could ask a few more questions and make the lessons even more interactive. The volunteers/station presenters were teacher assistants and student teachers from the school. Another nice feature of this trip was the groups. EACH group had a chaperone. A lot of schools don’t have the manpower available to have a chaperone with each group. This time they did, and it was very nice. The overall vibe was subdued excitement. The kids were very attentive and all of them were able to hear and focus on the information being presented to them.

Ideally, each child is going to be healthy, awake and ready to learn. The reality though is sometimes kids don’t feel well. And sometimes when they don’t feel well, they ignore it because they don’t want to miss anything fun. When that happens, sometimes not feeling well makes itself known in other ways. Yep, I had my very first threw-up-in the Body Walk. Don’t worry. The kid felt MUCH better afterwards.

The reason I bring it up is because the lung station presenter handled it GREAT. While the group chaperone escorted the student to the nurse, the volunteer herded the kids outside the exhibit. She let me know what happened, and a new plan was devised.  The kids kept going through normally. When they finished the heart room, they came OUTSIDE and learned about their lungs. Then they got to use the ‘secret entrance’ to enter the bone station and finish the exhibit in the normal way. Thanks to everyone’s quick thinking, we didn’t get behind on the schedule, the kids still got the full experience, few of them knew a fellow classmate got sick, and everyone still had a good time. The teamwork was great to be a part of, and to see.

Kids learning about their lungs outside of the body.

Kids learning about their lungs outside of the body.

Every time Body Walk travels to a new place, the kids have questions. This time was no different. Some of the questions: “Is it scary?”  “Will we get a shot?”  “Will it hurt?”  The answer to all these is no. The best question was asked by a first grader. After the review, she wanted to know, ‘What’s next?” That’s the sign of a good experience, they want more.

The ‘more’ was the activity book the teacher received to use in the classroom that reinforced everything they learned in the exhibit.

Next up, Itawamba county.

 

Body Walk in Magnolia MS

A new year, a new month, but the same excellent information on ‘being smart from the inside out’ is rolling through Mississippi. First stop in 2013 was in Pike county, at Magnolia Elementary School. Here we saw K-5th grade, almost 700 students in all. Our station presenters were Allied Health students and nursing students from Copiah-Lincoln Community College.  We had so many great teenage volunteers that many of them served as chaperones in the exhibit.

Teachers go through with their classes, but there is only one, and the classes are usually split into thirds. Having a chaperone for the groups who go without the teacher is a great way to keep order in the exhibit, and for the teenagers to get to see the exhibit ‘in action’.

Great volunteers, great chaperones.

Great volunteers, great chaperones.

Latoya Evans booked Body Walk for her county.  Mississippi is known for some crazy weather, and one part of the state can be radically different from another on the same day. The drive down to Magnolia was filled with rain, and at times, very limited visibility. However, the day after was really crazy. Most of the state had a snow day. Colleges and schools got out early or canceled classes all together.

Making the most of the snow at MSU and getting plenty of good exercise! (photo by Russ Houston)

Making the most of the snow at MSU and getting plenty of good exercise! (photo by Russ Houston)

But in Magnolia, Hardy Heart and I enjoyed bright sunshine and warm temperatures.

It's so bright, I shoulda wore shades!

It’s so bright, I shoulda wore shades!

The kids loved having a nice bright day, and they enjoyed learning how to be healthy from their trip through the Body Walk.

Next up, Horn Lake Mississippi.

 

Body Walk in Pearl Mississippi February 4, 2013

Welcome to the home of the Northside Elementary Pirates.

Welcome to the home of the Northside Elementary Pirates.

The last trip of 2012 was very nice. This trip was booked by Carol Ballard for Rankin county. Here I went to Northside Elementary in Pearl MS. We saw about 600 second and third graders. Helping us as station presenters were adult volunteers, the cheer squad, and allied health students. They all did a fantastic job.

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Part of the Allied Health class. They were great presenters, lots of energy.

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More Allied Health. Every question the younger kids asked, these students had an answer.

The cheer squad. Possibly, they are the dance squad. They are super helpful either way.

The cheer squad. Possibly, they are the dance squad. They are super helpful either way.

This was a very well-organized trip. Carol worked with Paula Beverly, the PE teacher. Ms. Beverly did a great job with scheduling the classes, so everything ran very smoothly. I especially liked her plan for organizing the shoes and activity books. I’ve mentioned in past blogs that the students have to move their shoes before they enter the Body Walk. Each school handles this in their own way. Some have the kids leave them in the bleachers, some have them lined up in rows on the gym floor (most used option), some have the teacher bring a laundry basket and each classes shoes go in one basket.  Here, Ms. Beverly had the kids remove the shoes and place them in a basket. Then, two of the cheer squad carried the shoes across the gym, and lined them up under a taped-up sign of the teachers name. Under this sign is where other volunteers stacked the activity books and stickers for the teachers to pick up. It was a very neat, organized, and quiet solution to shoe removal and retrieval.

Shoes nice and neat!

Shoes nice and neat!

Body Walk travels all over Mississippi. Therefore, I see a lot of elementary school cafeterias. All of them try to be cheerful and colorful. Some go beyond bright wall paint and posters though. This is one such school. Through murals, they are spreading a message of good health. It is one of the most delightful cafeterias I’ve seen.

Farmer mural. MyPlate. Childhood eating

I love this one. The farmer is growing vegetables that he can take from his wheelbarrow and put on his MyPlate.

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This one is lovely. Every day, put a rainbow on your plate and enjoy good health.

Growing good virtues.

Growing good virtues.

Body Walk bring a message of ‘being smart from the inside out’. The goal is that the children who tour the exhibit will internalize the message and they will make good choices for themselves. The habits they start in childhood will follow them to adulthood. What the program is doing is planting seeds. Hopefully, those seeds will grow over time, and we will see the result in the teenagers and adults of the future. Once in a long while though, we see the result in real-time. On the last day, the school nurse came in to tell Carol, Ms. Beverly, and me what had just happened. She works with a second grade boy who is diabetic. Every day, they talk about what he had for breakfast and what he will have for lunch. This day, he had a choice between fries and grapes. He picked grapes. When she asked him why (he’s a kid, kids LOVE fries and he had picked fries every time in the past) he said, ‘I saw how much sugar is in fries. I don’t want to eat that.’

Picture four grown women jumping up and down and cheering.

While he got confused on sugar and fat, (we have a test tube model to show sugar in common foods, and later, a test tube model showing the amount of fat in french fries), the important thing is HE CHOSE GRAPES. This boy got the message and applied it to HIS life. He made a new choice based on what he learned in the Body Walk.

There is no better way to wrap the year than that. Next up, 2013 and a new year of Body Walk travels.

 

Body Walk in Newton MS

Body Walk traveled to Newton Elementary School in Newton Mississippi. This trip was booked by MS Extension agent, Katrina McCalphia. We saw over 400 students, in grades K-4th. Here the volunteers were Allied Health students and AmeriCorps.

This was a great trip. All the volunteers worked very well together and the students had a wonderful time learning how to be healthy by making good choices for themselves.

One section I haven’t talked to much about is the Pathway to Life. The Pathway is the review at the end. This is a series of banners. Each banner represents a room the groups have passed through. There is usually one or two volunteers in the Pathway to review the groups on what they learned. They do this by pointing to each banner in turn and asking the groups questions. This is a difficult job because it is the last station, and the children are standing instead of sitting. Often the kids are ready to do something else, so it can be hard to hold their attention. The girls in Newton did a great job in the Pathway.

Ready to quiz the students on what they learned.

Ready to quiz the students on what they learned.

 

All the volunteers did a great job. As always, the students loved meeting the Organwise Guys as they traveled from room to room. They loved the giant teeth in the mouth station, and they loved (were horrified) by the pink and black lungs in the lung station. Overall, everyone did very well and the kids came away with a new understand of why they should make healthy choices, and HOW they can make healthy choices, every day.

 

Half of the Allied Health Students who did a wonderful job as station presenters.

Half of the Allied Health Students who did a wonderful job as station presenters.

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The other half of the Allied Health Students. Everyone was a real team player.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the AmeriCorps group. They were also great to work with. This was a great trip.

Next up, Pearl,Mississippi.