UC Food Safety
University of California
UC Food Safety

An energetic musical reinforces nutrition education

UCCE's Shawna Rogers shows the plush organs that are inside of OrganWise Guy.
It would be hard to forget a couple of kidneys singing the blues, or a disembodied heart demanding more exercise. That's what UC Cooperative Extension nutrition educators are banking on. The educators are pilot-testing a curriculum called “The OrganWise Guys” to help children remember healthy eating messages.

“The kids are really retaining the information because it is brought to life,” said Shawna Rogers, UCCE nutrition program coordinator. She and her colleagues take a four-foot doll to schools and peel open the chest to reveal plush toys representing all the organs. “Each time we go into the classroom, we focus on one organ and how they can keep that organ healthy.”

The dolls and nutrition curriculum are provided to teachers so they can be used to teach the children throughout the year.

The classroom series culminates with a lively stage play in which the organs come to life (see the video below). The OrganWise Guys curriculum is being tested at Olmos and Rowell elementary schools in Fresno with 688 students and 27 teachers as a possible supplement to traditional UC CalFresh curriculum, which was developed to extend nutrition education to recipients of CalFresh benefits (formerly called food stamps).

“OrganWise Guys curriculum pairs really nicely with the evidence-based curriculum that UC has put together,” said Shelby MacNab, UCCE nutrition program manager. “We teach about nutrition and healthy foods, and then we can show the students how that leads to a healthy body.”

Judging by enthusiasm, The OrganWise Guys is a rousing success. A more formal evaluation will be conducted by surveying the children's parents, said Kristen Stenger, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for Fresno County.

“We will ask parents if the kids have mentioned the OrganWise Guys at home or if they have told them what they learned at school about the body, health and nutrition,” Stenger said.

Once the full educational model has been developed with the OrganWise Guys curriculum, it will be offered to additional school sites.

Posted on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 8:44 AM

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