Mississippi BodyWalk Blog

being smart from the inside out

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.


Vegetables and Fruit



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!



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 Fulton Mississippi February 8, 2013

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.


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 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.


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


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.


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 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 Pontotoc Mississippi October 11, 2012

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Body Walk went to Pontotoc mid-September. Here, Sherry Thompson booked BW for her county. We saw 3rd and 4th grade students from South Pontotoc, North Pontotoc, D.T.Cox, and a few home schooled students.

Allied Health students were our volunteers both days.

The students loved starting their tour in the ‘igloo’ shaped head. They learned why breakfast is so important and why they need to take care of their brain. A healthy brain leads to a healthy body that makes good decisions.


Sir Rebrum welcomes students to the the Brain Station, first stop of the Body Walk.

Next up was the Mouth, quickly followed by the Stomach, Small Intestine, Heart, Lungs, Bones, Muscle, and Skin stations. When the students got to the Path of Life, the review at the end of the tour, they were full of new knowledge about how to be healthy. When asked, they were able to give lots of ways to live a healthy life.


Pathway of Life, review at the end of the Body Walk exhibit.


Next up, Grenada.



Body Walk in Monticello MS September 12, 2012

The second September trip for Body Walk was to Monticello MS. The heat index was still in the triple digits and this really mattered here because we set up in a wood gym with no AC. First and foremost, EVERY SINGLE PERSON who helped set-up, served as a volunteer, or helped take down is a trooper! It was HOT. It was fainting hot.  The volunteers could have left. They are volunteers, they can come or go at will. But they stuck it out. I was pleased to see how everyone rose to the occasion to get the message of ‘smart from the inside out’ to the third and fifth graders who came through the exhibit. Naveleen Pittman booked Body Walk for her county and she made sure to have plenty of water on hand for her volunteers. I think a sprinkler to run through would have been nice, I’m requesting that for next year. 😉

The kids were excited to learn, and they seemed to barely feel the heat. We took their comfort into consideration though. Through a series of fans and clever wall manipulation, everyone was able to focus on what they were learning, and not the temperature.

Fan One

Fan Two

Fan Three


Air vents for the rooms. All the rooms looked like this as we tried to increase the air flow.

Hardy Heart welcomed the kids into the gym. From the first OrganWise Guy, Sir Rebrum, to the last, Madame Muscle, the students had an organ narrator welcoming them to each room and telling them all the ways they can make healthy choices. Each character explained what happens if they make poor choices. They feel bad, they feel tired, or their organs don’t work like they should. But with the right choices, each organ (and thus each person) can stay in tip-top shape.

The kids were surprised to learn their intestines are so long. Peri Stolic and the Kidney brothers taught them that the average length is 22 feet. They also learned in the intestines that water is the best thirst quenching drink. They were not surprised to learn that one of the skin’s functions is to keep us cool by sweating. They had a good time, and they were happy to get their activity book after the tour. Many said they wanted to go through again. 🙂 That’s always nice to hear.

Next up, Pontotoc.




Body Walk in Desoto County, Lewisburg October 10, 2011

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!