Mississippi BodyWalk Blog

being smart from the inside out

Changes: Endings and Beginnings May 13, 2015

Hello Body Walkers,

Thank you. Thank you for reading this little blog, and for supporting Body Walk all these years. Body Walk has traveled the roads of MS since 2005. I joined the program in 2008, and in 2009, I started recording our travels for you here.

Body Walk is a unique program. There is only one exhibit like this in the state. A few other states have a Body Walk exhibit of their own, but even nationwide, it is a rare program. It has been a jewel of nutrition education and positive publicity for MSU, and for MSU-Extension. Over the years, we have seen children in every county. There are young people now who are finishing up high school or beginning their college careers who fondly remember when Body Walk came to their school.

All things run their course, and Body Walk has come to the end of its traveling days. The truck, a trooper for these past 10 years, has finally had the engine give out. Since the truck will not be replaced, the exhibit is in permanent storage. Below are some pictures from this last year. The blog will remain online so anyone can scroll through the past posts and see where it traveled and just a fraction of who participated across the state to make this program such a success for so long.

Be Smart from the Inside Out

Have I ever shown you the exhibit from the back, looking down on it? This is what it looks like.

Have I ever shown you the exhibit from the back, looking down on it? This is what it looks like.

First stop in the pathway of life. This is the review at the end.

First stop in the pathway of life. This is the review at the end.

Rest of the Pathway of Life

Rest of the Pathway of Life

IMG_2420

Volunteers

Volunteers

Volunteers

It was a COLD, sunny day.

It was a COLD, sunny day.

Working with the MS Tobacco Free Coalition

Working with the MS Tobacco Free Coalition

Bye Kids.
MS Body Walk 2005-2015

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Summer Food Service Program June 4, 2014

Hello Body Walkers!

Last Thursday was a really great day for me. I got to go represent Body Walk at the Summer Food Service Program Kick-off! (Whew, that’s a mouthful.) I’m sure you are wondering what the Summer Food Service Program is, right?

I’m going to make it easy for all of us and quote directly from the program I received.

“The Summer Food Service Program is an initiative of USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to provide healthy meals to school-age children in districts where 50% or more of the child population qualifies for free or reduced meals. This program is managed by the MS Dept. of Education Office of Healthy Schools (MDE OHS) and allows sponsors to set up sites across Mississippi to provide meals and other activities at a maximum of twice daily. Whether it is in a school, mobile site, low-income housing unit, or religious organization, SFSP works to guarantee children living in poverty are able to access healthy food during the summer vacation months.”

This is HUGE Body Walkers! Body Walk teaches the importance of making healthy food choices to K-5th grade children. How can they do that if their food resources are limited, or worse, not even there? By providing healthy food to these children, they can exercise the lessons they learned in Body Walk. Of course, not all the children who will benefit from this program have gotten to see Body Walk, but some have. Of all the schools Body Walk sees during the course of the year, on average, 80% of them have a student population where 50% or more of the students receive free or reduced breakfast and lunches.

Now, let’s talk about the speakers and the messages they shared yesterday. This event was at the MS State Capital. It was supposed to be on the south lawn, but the rain forced us inside? Have you been to the capital? It is beautiful. You can take tours (link needed) and learn more about it. Ok, on to the speakers.

First up was Todd Ivey, Deputy State Superintendent for Operations; MS Dept. of Education. Mr. Ivey really set the tone by welcoming everyone and explaining some about what the SFSP is and who it is trying to help.

Next up was Aaron Sisk, Vice President of Operations; Magnolia Health Plan. I have included links here, please go read more about Magnolia Health. He talked some about his company and how invested they are in the health of our young people. I confess, at the beginning of the day, I knew nothing about Magnolia Health. I got to learn a lot later in the day, read on down to find out what I learned. (Or click the link, whatever makes you happy :).

Next up was Audry Rowe. Ms. Rowe is an Administrator for USDA Food and Nutrition Services. I really enjoyed hearing Ms. Rowe speak. She was passionate about her goals to increase the number of children, not just in MS, but all across the country, who receive this much needed summer meal assistance. She talked about where she had been so far and the people she is connecting with to help her achieve the goal. She really got the crowd fired up with her passion and vision.

After her was the reading of Governor Phil Bryant’s Summer Food Service Proclamation. This was nice as it shows the state’s commitment to this issue. Part of the proclamation, stated that the week of June 2-6 is going to be SFSP week. I expect there will be a push in the news and social media during this week to let people know what’s available and why it is needed.

The last main speaker was Lenora Phillips, Director of CACFP/SFSP, MS Dept. of Education, and Office of Child Nutrition. She told us about what specifically is happening in MS to bring this program to life and make it work. She showed us the posters that are being distributed across the state. She told us people will be able to access the resources at schools, at day care centers, at churches, at community centers, and more. MS is making a huge push during SFSP week and she wants us all to spread the word. She was vibrant in her enthusiasm.

Last to speak was Benjamin Russell, Communications Director, and Public Policy Center of MS, who offered the closing remarks.

I’m sure you are wondering, was that it? Was that the whole day? NO. There was more. After all the speakers, we when to the first floor where many people had tables set up with handouts, posters, and loads of information. I got to visit several of the tables.

I learned that Magnolia Health “is a long-term solution to help the state of Mississippi enhance care for Medicaid recipients while most effectively managing Medicaid funds. [Magnolia is] a physician-driven, Mississippi-based Medicaid Coordinated Care Organization (CCO)…” I had actually heard about similar services on National Public Radio, in relation to another company. I am so glad MS has something similar.

I also got to speak to Nancy Roman and Stephanie Yow. They both work for the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. They were there talking about their program fueluptoplay60. The fuel up to play program is a great compliment to the teachings of Body Walk. The BW lessons teach low-fat milk is a great beverage choice in the brain stations (part of a healthy breakfast), the stomach station (part of a healthy meal), and the bone station(a great way to get calcium.) I enjoyed talking to them and sharing how Body Walk teaches a fueled up body is better able to learn and play.

After touring the tables, it was time to leave. I hope you are excited about SFSP in MS and if you know of children who would really benefit from access to healthy meals, please share this information with their caretaker.

 

Body Walk in Amite County March 3, 2014

Hello Body Walkers!

Last week, the exhibit traveled to Amite County, Liberty MS. (Age test: Aaamite County, LiberTY MISSissIPPi is the home of what famous comedian? Leave your answer in the comments.) This was an excellent trip. Before I tell you about the trip though, I wanted to show you a fun new item, buttons!

Body Walk and the OrganWiseGuys go together like walking and improved health. So, it only makes sense that the station presenters should have some OrganWiseGuys buttons to wear while they are teaching.

Adorable

Vegetables and Fruit

Protein

Protein

Gotta wear them ALL

Gotta wear them ALL

In Liberty, I worked with Amy Walsh. She is an Extension Agent in Amite County. She worked with the school to set the best schedule for the kids to come tour. She also worked with the Southwest MS Community College Nursing Instructors to arrange for their students to teach inside the Body Walk. I LOVE working with nursing students. They are always excited, full of energy, and they make the information fun for the kids. This group was a no different. Every time I listened to them teaching, the elementary kids were laughing, calling out answers, and just having a ball. We saw K-4th grade at Amite County Elementary School aka Liberty Elem.

Awesome presenters

Nursing students from Southwest MS Community College

Sometimes the station presenters or volunteers are nervous before the first group of kids comes in. Every now and then though, you get some people who are completely relaxed, who have no worries.

No worries.

No worries.

Before beginning the tour, sometimes it’s good to stretch, to get all your muscles loose and limber. A relaxed body and mind is one that is ready for learning. Some of the volunteers took turns leading the kids in some simple stretches so they would be ready to learn when they started the tour.

Loose and limber, limber and loose.

Loose and limber, limber and loose.

Once they kids finished their five minutes of stretching, it was time to start the tour. First stop was the brain. Here, the kids learned knowledge begins with a healthy mind.

Feed your brain good food AND good information.

Feed your brain good food AND good information.

The best place to learn about what is good food is in the Stomach Station. These ladies were showing plenty of examples of good food. They have plush models of fruits and veggies and they have life-like models of meats, grains, and juice.

Healthy food is ALWAYS a good decision.

Healthy food is ALWAYS a good decision.

When we have a healthy body, all the parts are working like they should. Some of those parts are the muscles. Muscle groups work together to breath, to digest our food, to let us throw a ball, or blink, or climb a tree. This last picture shows two volunteers working together in perfect harmony. She is reading the script, and he is prepared with all the props. He is holding one pound of fat, one pound of muscle, plush Madame Muscle, and he has the sack with the stress balls on his back. When she flips the page, he is ready to engage the group with the correct prop. Teamwork!

TEAMWORK

TEAMWORK

As you may have noticed, several of the volunteers are wearing the buttons. They were excited to get to wear them, and I was excited to have one more way to engage the volunteers in the experience that is Body Walk. It was a great trip.

Body Walk will be traveling to three counties in March and a specific day in March is when the Extension Agents will be able to book Body Walk for next Fall. I am looking forward to that, Body Walkers!

Hearty Heart loves the new banner.

Hearty Heart loves the new banner.

 

Body Walk in Scott County, Forest Elementary March 8, 2013

Next up in February for Body Walk was Forest Elementary. This was my second time to set up all the new stuff (and I won’t count every time), and it went well. It is such a joy to see all the new items assembled. The exhibit as a whole just looks very nice in the different gyms. For this school, Carol Ballard booked the school. Cindy Adkins, school nurse, was Carol’s contact at this school. Cindy did a great job securing volunteers and planning the schedule.

Bearcats

Bearcats

Our volunteers were Allied Health students. They did a great job presenting the material to the Kindergarten, First, and Second grade students who toured the exhibit. The kids had a great time learning how to keep their brain, mouth, stomach, small intestine, heart, lungs, bones, muscles, and skin healthy. They liked having the high school students teach them and show them all the cool and interesting props that are unique to each room.

As always, the plasma light in the brain was an immediate attention grabber. The light simulates the speed of neurons firing in our brain. Without proper nutrition, those neurons don’t work like they are supposed to. A good breakfast with foods from all sections of MyPlate is a great way to start the day.

Thoughts are electrical signals in the brain.

Thoughts are electrical signals in the brain.

After we eat, it is important to brush our teeth. Healthy teeth let us eat all those healthy crunch foods.

A healthy mouth is important to overall good health.

A healthy mouth is important to overall good health.

Everyone should fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables.

MyPlate shows how much of each food group to have on your plate

MyPlate shows how much of each food group to have on your plate

 

Smoking is always a bad idea.

Windy says keep your lungs pink, don't smoke.

Windy says keep your lungs pink, don’t smoke.

Once the kids finished their tour, their teacher was given a stack of activity books, one for each student. These reinforce everything the students learned in their trip through the body.

An activity book and sticker.

An activity book and sticker.

Next up, Stone county.

 

 

 

 

Body Walk in Vicksburg MS November 20, 2012

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

Body Walk most recently traveled to Beechwood Elementary. We had adult volunteers that helped with the set up and take down. This worked out great and the exhibit went up and came down smoothly, and in record time. Kindergarten through 5th grade toured the Body Walk, learning how to ‘be smart from the inside out.” They had a great time traveling from station to station. They loved the plasma ball in the brain. One little girl asked me, “Is that a crystal ball?” She was only slightly disappointed to learn it was not. The children learned about why it is important to be healthy, and how they can make healthy choices. The presenters not only told them why too much sugar is bad, they showed how much sugar is in common foods, and what all that sugar can do to teeth. They not only taught that vegetables are important, but showed models of healthy vegetables so the kids could recognize them when they encountered them later.  They didn’t just say, exercise works your heart, they had the kids jump up and down, then feel their pulse.

Plasma ball. Nothing crystal or fortune-telling about it.

At Beechwood, all the kids were all ready there on site, and they gym was connected to all the classrooms by halls. This was great because kids have to remove their shoes before they go inside the exhibit. The kids could remove their shoes in the classroom. The benefits were very noticeable. The students had a much shorter wait time before it was their turn. Also, the noise level was low. A low noise level means the kids inside the exhibit can really hear and focus on what they are learning. Overall, it was just a great day.

Not seen on this trip. The kids got to leave their shoes in their room.

Allied Health students were our volunteers this time. They did a good job presenting the material. They were enthusiastic and animated as they told the children why teeth brushing is so important. They stressed the need for strong bones and muscles, as well as healthy lungs unpolluted with cigarette smoke. Their teacher, Marian Banks, kept them on task and focused.

Allied Health Students taught in the Body Walk.

Marcus Davis booked BW for his county. Also on hand from Extension were Brenda Parks and Wesley Purvis. After the set-up, the adults wanted a quick tour. I took them through the exhibit, explaining what the students would be learning. I explained some of the props and activities. They enjoyed hearing about all the different rooms. None of them knew the average length of human intestines, so I think it’s safe to say they learned one new thing on the super fast tour.

Next up, Newton MS.

 

Body Walk in Southaven MS October 29, 2012

Last stop in October for Body Walk was to Greenbrook Elementary home of the Chargers.

Body Walk in the gym, home of the Greenbrook Chargers. Knights who fight with KNOWLEDGE and conquer the dark age of unknowing.

Here Jessica Lindsey booked BW for her county. I always like coming to Desoto because Jessica and Amye Zwerschke always have everything so organized. For example, being an extension program, I collect some demographic data on the children who go through the exhibit. Jessica had all the data collected before I even arrived! I was impressed.

We worked closely with Shelly McLaughlin. She is the gym teacher for Greenbrook. She made sure the teachers came down on time and helped us keep on schedule. She had the cutest thing ever in her window. The Veggie Friends! The Veggie Friends are plush fruits and vegetables and are about the same size as the plush OrganWise Guys. It was only natural that the Veggie Friends would want to check out the Body Walk and that the two groups should hang out.

Three of the Veggie Friends sat on a tooth in the Mouth Station.

Mr. Onion was thrilled to see the Body Walk. His wispy hair vibrated with excitement.

Despite his sour expression, Mr. Lemon was excited to meet the OrganWise Guys.

Peri Stolic and Sir Rebrum hung out with all their new pals. The veggies were fascinated with tales of villi and neurons.

Madam Muscle and Hardy Heart visited with their new pals. Mr. Orange had some ‘bright’ stories to share.

Nursing students from Northwest in Senatobia were our station presenters. They did a great job. Nursing students are always great volunteers. They bring a lot of excitement and fired up delivery to the scripts. Thursday’s volunteer in the muscle station was particularly good. I stopped by and listened to her presentation several times. She had an exciting way of talking about muscles and she really involved each group in understanding how their muscles let them move.

Nursing students from Northwest in Senatobia MS

Nursing students from the last day. These students taught and helped take down the exhibit.

While I was there, the school was having its Red Ribbon Week of staying away from drugs. Each day had a theme. The BEST day was crazy hair day, and this little girl had the best hair.

Half green, half pink and standing up 12 inches from her head.

Body Walk isn’t going to fix childhood health all on its own. The program is one part of a much larger effort to improve kid’s health, nutrition, and exercise. In Desoto county, they have implemented changes in their cafeteria. Ms. McLaughlin shared a flyer with me that had gone out to all the parents at the beginning of the year. The goal is to have the kids eat more fruits and vegetables. They have only skim milk in the cafeteria, whole grain bread and rolls, and dark greens in the salads. If a child wants an extra fruit or vegetable for lunch from the available options, they can have it, and they are not charged extra.

Flyer explaining the meal changes in Desoto county schools.

I love this because it is right in line with what the children learn inside the Body Walk. Eat whole grains, eat more fruit and vegetables, drink milk or water, avoid high sugar drinks. Repetition of the message will help the message stick with the children.

Now, if we can just get them to not pig out on the Halloween candy….
Next up, Vicksburg.

 

Body Walk in McComb MS October 15, 2012

Next stop for the Body Walk exhibit was in McComb MS in Pike county. Here, LaToya Evans booked BW for her county. We saw 2nd-5th grade. Here, we had great help from beginning to end. To start, all the maintenance men were asked to help with the set up. This was a surprise to them, but being professionals, they rolled with it. Close to the end of set-up, as we were fastening all the little Velcro tabs of the grey matter, I said, ‘Ya’ll didn’t know you were going to get to have this much fun today, huh?” One of the men answered, “No, but I’m having an exhilarating time.” I got so tickled, I had to just sit down and laugh until I recovered.

brain station

Head frame almost complete. Next step is the grey matter which goes inside the frame and stays in place with many, many Velcro attachments. (picture from different county)

We had great help both days that we saw the kids. Nursing students from two local colleges served as presenters in the rooms. On the first day, the maintenance men came back. I had told them to come by when the exhibit was in full swing so they could see the purpose of what they had put so much work into putting together. I have made this offer in the past, but rarely does anyone come by. These men came by and they took the WHOLE tour of the exhibit. I had the chance to explain each station, and what the children are supposed to learn from the activity in each room. It was great to have that connection between seeing it assembled, but silent and empty, to seeing it full and noisy.

Nursing students after a great day of teaching ‘how to be smart from the inside out.’

Nursing students from the second day.

The kids had a great time. From walking in and seeing Hardy Heart say ‘Hi, Kids’ to Sir Rebrum, from Windy Lungs to Madame Muscle; they learned and interacted and hopefully absorbed messages that will stick with them. Healthy kids grow into healthy adults. These are 800+ kids who got the chance to learn ‘be smart from the inside out.’

Next stop, Holly Springs.