CVES students take a journey through the body

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Creek View Elementary School first-grader Lily Phillips immediately displayed a big smile when she heard she would have another chance to use a larger-than-normal toothbrush to clean a much larger-than-life model of a human mouth.

“We get to brush the teeth again!” she said excitedly as she walked to a station in the Body Trek van set up behind the school on Oct. 5.

Though Phillips and her classmates Lilly Wesson and Hudson Byars had already been through the van once, they reveled in the opportunity to get another look at the colorful, educational stations spread throughout the inside of the vehicle.

A few stations down from the large set of teeth, another group of students were marveling at the germs on their hands after a special dye made the germs appear under a blacklight.

“The germ station and the nose station are probably the most popular with the kids,” said Marilyn Prier, a Children’s of Alabama employee and coordinator of the Body Trek program. “Children are concrete learners, and the germ station allows them to see how the germs travel.”

For several weeks, the Body Trek van, which is funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield, has been stationed at Creek View as about 55 students per day have gone through the interactive mobile classroom.

Inside the large van are several stations featuring different parts of the body, such as the nose, brain, ears, eyes and more. Other stations focus on the importance of safety, exercise and eating right.

“We focus on health education and injury precaution, especially with motor vehicles and bikes since they are the two biggest causes of death and injury in pediatrics,” Prier said.

In the weeks leading up to the van’s visit, students at the school completed a workbook outlining the concepts they experienced at the van’s stations. They also completed pre- and post-assessments to determine how much they learned after going through the van.

Several parent volunteers helped man the van each day to ensure the program ran smoothly.

“We usually see 6,000 to 6,500 kids per year in groups of three at a time, so there’s definitely a volunteer component,” Prier said. “We really couldn’t do it without them.”