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Children learn the importance of a healthy lifestyle

“Eat Smart, Play Hard”

Staff writer

Imagine walking into a larger than life mock-up of the various parts of a body and learning what happens to food as it enters and travels through the body.

Centre kindergarten through sixth grade students learned the importance of good nutrition choices last week by walking through a Body Venture 50-foot-long exhibit of connected shapes and sizes, representing various parts of the human body.

Children sat on seats designed like teeth when they entered the cavernous mouth on a tongue loaded with taste buds. An adult read a script describing all the functions that take place in the mouth, such as saliva production for beginning the digestion process, taste buds, and glands.

At other sections along the way, body parts were depicted as large drawings. Children sat on the floor and learned about the importance of giving each part proper nutrition.

To begin the journey, 109 students were separated into groups of eight. At a separate “lunch room,” each group was introduced to Power Panther and the lesson of the day: Eat Smart, Play Hard.

They learned about the four basic food groups — fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein, with a side serving of dairy. Each person became a food such as a carrot, low-fat milk, or piece of chicken.

Their first stop was a large, separate brain dome, where they learned how various parts of the brain need proper nutrition to communicate with the body and process information.

They exited through a giant ear, then entered a body through a large mouth. Leaving the mouth, they traveled through a tunnel known as the esophagus and moved into the stomach, where a large part of the digestive process takes place.

They then moved into the small intestine, where they became nutrients and were absorbed into the blood.

They followed the path of nutrients to heart, lung, bone, muscle, and skin stations.

When they exited through a slit in the skin, they were presented with a recap of key health concepts.

Several fifth-grade students thought the exhibit was “cool.”

“It was fun,” Hailey Barton said. “I learned that if you smoke a lot, your lungs will turn black, and it will be hard to breathe.”

Adam Wonser and Dwayne Moenning said they learned that eating too much sugar is bad for health.

“It was amazing,” Daniel Rziha said.

The exhibit was developed and provided by Kansas Department of Education.

“The idea is to introduce to children that nutrition is an important part of their whole life,” manager Linda Dunn said.

Last modified Sept. 21, 2017

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