2 local schools involved in anime nutrition program

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2011

A new initiative – Body Quest Food of the Warrior – designed to have elementary school students use cutting-edge technology while learning about fitness and help, has made its way to two Covington County Schools.

The 17-week program is designed for third graders throughout the state, using state-of-the-art technology such as Apple’s iPad.

Students at Straughn Elementary and Red Level Elementary have been chosen for this program. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Debbie Beverly of the Butler County Extension Office and Tanya Bales of Covington County 4-H will bring the program into the schools.

Through anime, the Japanese-styled animation seen in Pokemon and others, elementary school students become Body Quest warriors, who view health as a personal choice, requiring good decision-making skills and critical thinking.

Characters such as Shining Rainbow, Graino Supa, Body Doctor and Muscle Max, help students demonstrate bravery by trying new fruits and vegetables, and students train for the quest by becoming more physically fit.

“This is a fantastic program that combines technology with hands-on learning experiences where we are studying the eating habits of third graders through a weekly lunch survey,” Bales said.

“We’re trying to show that children with more technology learn better, while promoting overall healthy eating,” Beverly said. “Every week we expose the children to new fruits and vegetables called battle groups.”

Beverly said the different schools are divided into three different groups including a technology, pen and paper, and a control group.

Straughn is a technology group and Red Level is a pen and paper group.

Beverly said all the schools have an opportunity to participate in using the interactive application for Apple iPads, which are supported by an assortment of engaging evidence-based activities and resources.

“We have all seen the statistics on childhood obesity in Alabama,” said Dr. Barbara Struempler, an Extension nutrition educator at Auburn. “It’s almost overwhelming. We have the country’s second highest obesity rate, and one-third of kids between the ages of 6 and 11 are obese. That has an impact on health costs and future employment – not to mention the quality of life for obese children.”