Students walk through the body
Eight-year-old Tara Etchart stepped through a mouth, then slid down the throat into the stomach laid out on the cafeteria floor at Empire Elementary School on Friday.
“Going through (the esophagus) was like going through the mouth,” Tara said. “It’s just that you have to bend on your knees.”
First- through fourth-graders traveled through wooden cutouts and plastic tunnels disguised as various organs as part of the school’s “body walk.”
“It’s good to start at this level so they can learn healthy habits at a young age,” said Michele Cowee, registered dietitian. “Later in life, they can be healthy and maybe avoid such things as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.”
Cowee and four other registered dietitians volunteered their time to run the program.
The children began by stepping through a cutout of lips where they were each given a cracker and shown the importance of teeth.
“You have to chew it,” said Edward Meza, 7. “We would choke if we didn’t.”
From the mouth, students crawled through a tunnel — labeled the esophagus — into the stomach, where they danced to a song about the food groups.
Students clapped and wiggled to beat and followed along to the words, “Remember the food groups, we bad, we cool. Oh, all food groups, I need you, I want you.”
“The dance was fun because we got to move around,” said Zach Barnes, 9.
“The stomach digests your food.”
The next stop was the small intestine, which breaks the food into protein. Cowee unwound a 20-foot length of cord to show students how long the intestine is.
“The small intestine crumples up your food,” said Lindsey Ashbaugh, 8.
The protein then goes to build strong muscles and bones as well as a healthy heart and lungs.
Kim Mason, registered dietitian, squeezed and released a water bottle to demonstrate to students how the heart pumps blood.
“You have to take really good care of your heart so it doesn’t stop pumping,” said Gage Saver, 7. “You need to eat good food and jog.”
As the final step in their journey, students were sneezed back to their classrooms.