News Release Distributed 08/02/13BATON ROUGE, La. – Denise Holston-West, registered dietitian and program manager for the LSU AgCenter’s Smart Bodies program, is the winner of the 2013 Southern Region Excellence in Extension Award.
The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities awards this distinction to individuals who have a positive effect on people in their community and provide visionary leadership for the Extension System.
The Smart Bodies program addresses the childhood obesity problem in Louisiana with three components – 2 Step in the Classroom, Body Walk and Organwise Guys.
The 2 Step in the Classroom lessons include physical activity integrated with nutrition education and led by teachers or LSU AgCenter agents. The Body Walk is a walk-through exhibit helps children see how the inside of the body works and how food affects health. The Organwise Guys are cartoon characters that take complex nutrition concepts and present them in a way children can understand.
The program was initially funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation for $1.8 million in 2004. In 2010, Holston-West received an additional $1.25 million in external funding from Blue Cross.
The program has been recognized with the BlueWorks Award from Blue Cross and as a National 4-H Program of Distinction.
LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson said the Smart Bodies program connects experiential learning activities that promote the health and wellness of elementary school children. “The Smart Bodies program aligns with one of the LSU AgCenter’s goals to address the prevalence of obesity in Louisiana.”
Holston-West said Smart Bodies has been successful because teachers and AgCenter agents believe in and see the benefits of it.
“We listen to the children, parents and teachers,” she said. “The program has the ability to evolve to meet the needs of the community.”
Gina E. Eubanks, LSU AgCenter program leader for nutrition and food sciences, nominated Holston-West for her work with Smart Bodies for this award.
“This award is a confirmation of this program’s value to our state,” Eubanks said.
Holston-West will represent the Southern Region at the APLU’s annual meeting in November. Tobie Blanchard
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