BY CAROL ROEHM
Nearly 400 second-graders from schools throughout Vermilion County are expected to take a journey through the human body next week.
The students will be bused to Georgetown, where they will tour Presence United Samaritans’ Body Walk exhibit on Wednesday in the gymnasium of Pine Crest Elementary School.
Tours will run most of the day, starting at 8:25 a.m. and ending around 2 p.m.
The elementary schools participating in the Body Walk experience are Pine Crest in Georgetown, Catlin, Edison Elementary in Danville, Oakwood, Jamaica, Chrisman and Judith Giacoma in Westville.
Presence takes area second-graders on the Body Walk adventure three times each year — once each in northern Vermilion County, in Danville and in southern Vermilion County. The activity is funded by a $4,000 grant from the A.L. Webster Foundation to the HALO Project, an outreach program of the Presence United Samaritans Medical Center Foundation.
“The A.L. Webster Foundation is a local organization, so it is local funds providing services to our community. The Body Walk is an excellent example of partnerships forged across the county to promote healthy lifestyle choices for our children,” said Kathy Richard, director for HALO and Body Walk co-chair.
During the Body Walk experience, each child pretends to be shrunk into a small particle and walks or crawls through a larger-than-life-size model of the human body.
The students enter the Body Walk through a wooden mouth and crawl through curly tunnels that mimic the intestines. The children end up in a kiddie pool dodging sponges that represent the digestive system.
The Body Walk exhibit allows children to learn about the body parts and functions, as well as visit other information stations with instruction on nutrition, exercise, head lice, tobacco and smoking, hygiene, humor, health and more.
Some of the more creative displays in the Body Walk are a black light box that children stick their hands in to see all the germs and how well they’ve washed their hands, dissected cow eyes sponsored by Chittick Family Eye Care and a set of pig’s lungs.
“We’ve always had the germ box,” Richard said. “The kids really like that.”
The dissected cow eyes, according to Richard, “show how the eyeball works” that helps Chittick’s promote eye health.
The pig lungs, sponsored by the Vermilion County Sheriff’s Department, inflate and deflate with a foot pump and show side-by-side a healthy lung and an unhealthy smoker’s lung.
Another display gaining in popularity is the litter prevention activity coordinated by Keep Vermilion County Beautiful.
“The kids get to pick up clean trash on the floor with a picker,” Richard said.
Other displays include Danville Area Community College radiology students showing the children X-rays, such as one with “a quarter in the tummy,” Richard said, and the American Cancer Society’s exercise booth.
The purpose of the Body Walk exhibit is to intrigue and educate youngsters.
“The Body Walk gives kids a fun and visual experience, and hopefully motivates them to learn more and take an active role in their health. The goal is to help them improve and maintain their health. A lot of times they just need to know they have choices when it comes to getting and staying healthy,” Richard said.
“It’s a great way for kids to have a lot of fun while they learn these important lessons about their health,” she added.
The Body Walk is coordinated by members of the Partners in Education Committee at Presence United Samaritans.
Employees and volunteers from several departments of the medical center, the HALO Project and the community work at the event with the help of DACC nursing and radiology students, the Vermilion County Sheriff’s Department, Chittick Family Eye Care, American Cancer Society, the dental office of Dr. Randall Ashton and Keep Vermilion County Beautiful.