It is so much fun to spend an hour with second and third graders in Wiggin Street School each February, explaining how the human body functions. For the past 20 years, since my youngest son was a Wiggin St. first grader, I’ve helped young kids appreciate the amazing human body. I try to make the kids laugh at normal body functions while educating them on the care of their bodies.
I’ve learned over the years that kids this age have little idea how the body works. But with eyes wide open, most of the them are eager to learn. When I start to take out the various organs from a model torso, like the heart, lungs and intestines, the kids almost believe they are real.
I remove the lungs from the model and they are a bright pink color. When I tell the kids that smoking turns the lungs black as tar, there’s a collective ooh and ahh. Most of them know, even at this age, that, “smoking is really bad for you”. I make sure each class knows that smoking is the single worst thing you can do for your health.
When I pull the heart out, we talk about junk food. I tell them that eating junk food is like squirting Elmers glue in the heart, clogging it up. Then I gurgle and gag as if I’m having a heart attack. Always lots of laughter. But it gives me a chance to talk about heart healthy eating, such as a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains versus junk food.
Removing the intestines gives me a chance to talk about normal digestive processes. We talk about the three things that keep food particles moving along the intestines; drinking lots of water each day, a high fiber diet and daily exercise.
I discuss with them that undigested foods move thru the large intestine, ending up in the rectum. I always lean into them and quietly say, “Don’t tell your teacher but we call it the poop chute”. They all laugh loudly in unison while I look sheepishly at the teacher. Again, I can emphasize the importance of good bowel habits.
When we get to the bladder, I tell them a little story about kids their age sleeping really sound at night. When the bladder fills and expands, it sends a message to the brain to get up and go “wee wee”. But at their age, sometimes they are just too tired and I ask what happens next. Collectively shouting and laughing, they reply, “we wet the bed”. I reassure them that it is a normal function and everyone their age, and my age, has wet the bed. Another chance to talk about normal body functions.
The kids get to use a stethoscope, wear gloves and masks, experiment with a variety of hand and leg braces, and end with dipping their hands in hot wax just like the Romans 2,000 years ago. Great fun, lots of laughs and a good basic education on the human body.
Sometimes I get a hug or two from a couple of the little girls at the end of each class. Their way of saying thanks, from the heart. I’m hoping for another 20 years of those hugs………
Happy Birthday Chris, always a Wiggin St. Kid.
Dr. Allan Bazzoli, MD is a practitioner of Acupuncture, Holistic Medicine, and Physical Medicine in the Mt. Vernon/Central Ohio and Columbus area. He is available for speaking engagements on a variety of holistic medical topics. This material can be distributed free to the public as long as there is no remuneration and credit is given to the author.