Ellen P. Murphy, Morgan, Johnny W. | 4/19/2005 10:29:26 PM
LSU AgCenter agents across the state are teaching children the importance of eating healthfully and exercising, and characters known as the OrganWise Guys are helping with those efforts.
Charla Branch-Moore, an LSU AgCenter agent in Jefferson Parish who is part of the educational efforts, explains, however, that the OrganWise Guys aren’t actually "guys" at all.
"What I do is make visits to the summer programs at various schools and teach the students how to keep themselves healthy through diet and exercise," Moore said, explaining that her job is made easier by her trusty companion, a doll named Organ Annie. "The OrganWise Guys are Annie’s internal organs and are known as Hardy Heart, Madame Muscle, Windy the Lungs, Peri Stolic the Intestines, Sir Rebrum the Brain, Peter Pancreas, Pepto the Stomach, the Kidney Brothers, Luigi Liver and Calci M. Bone."
The OrganWise Guys curriculum is part of a program developed by Wellness Inc. of Atlanta. It’s designed to teach children how the body responds to different foods and lifestyles and is used by LSU AgCenter agents across Louisiana as one part of a statewide plan to fight childhood obesity, according to Dr. Ellen Murphy, state program leader for the AgCenter’s family and consumer sciences educational programs.
"Our goal is to educate young people about eating more healthfully and increasing physical activity, and we thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce the OrganWise Guys to the young people," Murphy said, explaining that one part of the effort focuses on integrating the wellness educational programs into some of the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H youth development program.
Moore recently took the OrganWise Guys program to more than 350 children at Butler Elementary’s Summer Camp, Aimes Elementary’s Summer Camp and at Second Zion Baptist Church’s Summer Camp in Jefferson Parish – where the children experience a hands-on demonstration.
"This program is designed to teach the kids to take care of their bodies, and it also helps them to improve physically, mentally and academically," said Stacey Harris, the activity instructor at Butler Elementary, who explained that her Advant program is the result of a grant that is shared by several schools. Moore and Harris have been cooperating to bring the OrganWise Guys and other wellness education programs to the students this summer.
Harris explained the Advant program is operated at three different sites in Jefferson Parish, with more than 300 children involved during the summer.
"This is a six-week program, and we’re trying to keep the students engaged during the summer so that they are ready to learn when school opens in the fall," she said, explaining, however, that the overall Advant program isn’t just for the six-week summer program. It’s actually a year-round effort that is part of the after-school tutoring program.
In addition to the use of the OrganWise Guys, the LSU AgCenter’s Moore said she also teaches the students about the basic food groups in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid and how those groups play into making healthy food choices.
The children in the summer program range from kindergarten through sixth grade.
For more information on this and other health-related topics, as well as a variety of other information on subjects ranging from lawns and gardens to family life, visit www.lsuagcenter.com or contact your parish LSU AgCenter office.