MSA-W Becomes a Smart Bodies School

Staff reports

Iberville Math, Science, and Arts Academy West faculty and staff recently became a partner in health with the LSU AgCenter and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation by participating in a Smart Bodies Teacher Training conducted by LSU AgCenter Agent, Layne A. Langley. 

Smart Bodies is a 12-week innovative wellness program that integrates nutrition and physical activity into core curriculum academics to prevent children from becoming overweight or obese.  Smart Bodies is designed for kindergarten through 5th grade and will be incorporated into Kindergarten, 4th and 5th grades at MSA-W.

            Childhood obesity is an epidemic in Louisiana and in the United States.  Overweight and obese children are at risk for Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, depression, cardiovascular disease, and other serious health problems.  Studies have shown that academic performance is related to children’s nutritional status.  Obesity in children can be confronted only through comprehensive health programs designed to educate and change behaviors.  It is key to educate children at an early age about the importance of healthy lifestyles so that they will become healthier adults with fewer health care issues.

            Smart Bodies is a hands-on educational program that promotes child wellness through classroom activities that teach children about healthy eating habits and physical activity.  In 2010, over 46,800 students in Louisiana were reached in 125 schools.  Smart Bodies is pleased to report research findings including: increased nutrition and physical activity knowledge, increased willingness to taste fruit and vegetables, increased physical activity, increased school and parent awareness, and decreased incident of risk.  The program consists of three components with each component being linked to academic mandates set forth by the Department of Education.  The three components include: the Body Walk, OrganWise Guys, and Wisercise.

            The Body Walk is a 35 foot by 45 foot interactive walk-through exhibit that represents the human body.  The Body Walk visited MSA-W in September. Students explored the brain, mouth, stomach, small intestines, heart, lungs, bones, muscles, and skin.  Another component of Smart Bodies is the OrganWise Guys.  These are fun characters that help children understand healthy behaviors through books, games, dolls, and videos.  Students meet Calci. M. Bone, Sir Rebrum, Hardy Heart, Madame Muscle, Windy the Lungs, Luigi Liver, the Kidney Brothers, Peter Pancreas, Pepto the Stomach, and Peri Stolic. All of these characters reside in large dolls called Organ Annie and Organ Andy.  The teachers at MSA-W will utilize various kits to teach the students about making healthy choices and adding exercise to their day.  New this year to Smart Bodies is a third component- Wisercise!  It combines academics, nutrition, physical activity, and FUN!  Cadence marches are used in Wisercise as warm-ups and cool-downs. 

            The Kindergarten, 4th, and 5th grade students participated in the OrganWise Guys School Assemblies to kick off the Smart Bodies Program.  During the assemblies, students were introduced to the OrganWise Guys and learned the four healthy habits for OrganWise kids: make low-fat food choices, eat a high fiber diet, drink lots of water, and exercise regularly.  The students enjoyed interacting and were enthusiastic about the program.