Southeast Lauderdale Elementary School students will embark on an amazing journey today through the human body by way of the health education program Body Walk.

"Body Walk is designed to educate kids on healthy eating habits and being physically healthy," said Lewatis D. McNeal, Body Walk program coordinator for Mississippi.

Today's exhibit culminates a three-day stay at area elementary schools, including West Lauderdale on Tuesday and Northeast Lauderdale on Wednesday.

Geared to kindergarten through fifth grades, the interactive health exhibit is sponsored by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Mississippi, the Mississippi attorney general's office, Mississippi Health Corps, the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi and the Mississippi 4-H Program.

"We're so glad to have the Body Walk program in our county," said Beth Randall, 4-H youth agent for Lauderdale County. "The kids have learned so much and have really been excited about it. It sort of brings the body alive so they can better understand how everything works."

Body Walk consists of a 40-foot-by-40-foot walk-through exhibit representing the human body. Ten stations are featured — the brain, muscles, bones, lungs, skin, stomach, heart, esophagus, intestines, artery, mouth and Pathway for Life — and students tour the human body with The OrganWise Guys (volunteers) as their guides.

Students enrolled in the Health Occupation Safety Association program at each school served as guides. The tour begins when students, in groups of six to eight, walk through a giant ear into the brain. Inside the huge brain dome, students experience "brain waves" and learn about brain function.

After they leave the brain, the students are each given a bookmark designating them as a food, such as a carrot, hamburger or piece of cheese. The "foods" step into the exhibit's larger-than-life mouth, are "swallowed" through the esophagus tunnel and move into the stomach dome.

"As the students go through each station, they participate in hands-on activities," McNeal said. "For instance, in the mouth they will get to simulate like a floss. We have big teeth, and the kids take a rope and floss between them to learn about the importance of flossing. And we have a big toothbrush used to brush the teeth."

From the stomach, the students travel through the small intestine, where they are "absorbed" into the blood. Then they follow the path of the nutrients to the heart, lung, bone, muscle and skin stations. Students leave the body through a cut in the skin and proceed through The OrganWise Guys' Pathway for Life. This final station recaps key health concepts from each of the nine previous stations.

At the end of the tour, each student receives a pencil, a Body Walk activity book and a sticker. In addition, each participating school is issued a health kit to reinforce the program.

"Our goal is to reach 30,000 kids each year across the state of Mississippi," McNeal said.

Mississippi is the fifth state to offer Body Walk, and Lauderdale County is the fourth county to present the program.


Body Walk was developed to address good nutrition and other healthy lifestyle choices. Among American kids:

Fewer than 15 percent of schoolchildren eat the recommended servings of fruit.

Fewer than 20 percent eat the recommended servings of vegetables.

About 25 percent eat the recommended servings of grains.

Only 30 percent consume the recommended milk group servings.

About two-thirds eat more fat than is recommended.

Source: Body Walk at

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