Lincoln Parish group gives $11,600 to child health program

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Judd, Cathy S.  |  10/5/2009 9:27:39 PM

News Release Distributed 10/05/09

An $11,600 donation from the Lincoln Health Foundation will provide additional resources for teachers at two Ruston elementary schools for the Take 10! classroom program.

Take 10! is a grade-specific educational tool that encourages short bouts of physical activity integrated with academic lessons, said Cathy Judd, LSU AgCenter family and consumer sciences agent, who is assisting with the project.

Ruston Elementary School and Cypress Springs Elementary School will receive for each grade level curricular materials and training, providing teachers with learning activities that incorporate movement to reinforce academic concepts, Judd said. The activities are linked to the Grade Level Expectations established by the Louisiana Department of Education.

Both schools received more than $1,200 worth of resources to start the program sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. Each grade received the Take 10! program, but not every teacher received the resource materials.

“That means teachers would have to share,” Judd said.

“The Lincoln Health Foundation stepped in and funded an additional $11,000 to purchase additional resources for the teachers,” Judd announced Oct. 2 at Ruston Elementary School, where she gave an interactive assembly on the Organ Wise Guys.

The Organ Wise Guys are characters that help young children understand physiology and healthy behaviors. The program uses books, games, dolls and informational videos.

Judd said her objective is for the youth, teachers and parents to learn more about nutrition, eat more fruits and vegetables and exercise. Teachers will teach nutrition for the next 12 weeks, engage students in exercise for 10 minutes a day and keep a poster of students’ fruit and vegetable consumption, she said.

Parents will learn about nutrition through parent-child handout sheets and newsletters. “We hope to engage them in a walk/run day,” Judd said.

A parent academy will include information on parenting skills, nutrition, quick-and-easy meal tips and how to stretch food dollars, Judd added.

After the 12 weeks, the Body Walk, a 35-by-45-foot, walk-through exhibit representing the human body, will visit the schools. Students explore the brain, mouth, stomach, small intestines, heart, lungs, bones, muscles and skin, stopping at learning stations to participate in activities focused on the effects that different foods have on each organ.

Dr. Mary Murimi, professor of nutrition and dietetics at Louisiana Tech University, is working with the LSU AgCenter to collect data to evaluate the success of Smart Bodies, Judd said. Students’ waist, height and weight measurements will be taken at the beginning and end of the 12 weeks.

“We will look at increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, exercise, change in body and if test scores increase,” Judd said.

Danny Bell, Lincoln Parish school superintendent, attended the assembly to see the Organ Wise Guys for the first time.

“I don’t think there could be any more important a message that needs to get out than health issues that could be prevented by making wise choices,” Bell said. “I hope the students take this home and say to their parents, ‘This is what we need to do as a family.’”

He said the teachers were excited. “This is a wonderful gift to the schools and community.”

Shirley Reagan, president of the Lincoln Health Foundation, said diet and obesity were two problems identified in a parish health assessment conducted last fall.

“The donation fits with our strategic plan,” Reagan said. “We are really excited to partner with the LSU AgCenter to provide these resources.”

Mary Ann Van Osdell

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