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Recent Events

What is the Speedway to Healthy Exhibit?

The Speedway to Healthy is a 1,200-square-foot, walk-through exhibit representing the human body. This creative educational exhibit teaches children in kindergarten through fifth (K-5) grades how the foods they eat affect their bodies and their health.

Why was the Speedway to Healthy project developed?

Childhood obesity is a widespread issue in the state and the nation. The Speedway to Healthy project was created as a resource to fight childhood obesity and poor health among children in North Carolina.
Exhibit teaches through hands-on experience

Fourth-grade students move through the Davidson County Health Department's 2018 'Speedway to Healthy' exhibit representing the human body.  

By Sharon Myers / The Dispatch
Photo by Donnie Roberts
Posted Apr 18, 2018 at 7:00 PM

The Davidson County Health Department has invited the fourth-grade students of Davidson County to get on the fast track when it comes to making healthy food choices by showing them how different foods interact with the body in a program called Speedway to Healthy.

The program is offered to all fourth-grade students in Davidson County. Students at Liberty Drive Elementary attended the event on Wednesday. Fourth-grade students from Lexington City Schools will go through the exhibit on Thursday and Davidson County Schools students will attend next week.

Speedway to Healthy is organized through the Davidson County Health Department in partnership with the Cooperative Extension program at North Carolina A&T State University. The focus of the program is to educate children on how different foods affect the body and to encourage healthy lifestyle practices.

Jen Hames, Davidson County Health Department education supervisor and promotion coordinator, said the Speedway to Healthy program is a great example of getting children to learn in a fun and exciting environment. She said they selected fourth-graders because healthy eating is part of their curriculum and they are more adaptable than older students.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to show kids why they need to eat healthy,” Hames aid. “All the feedback we heard from last year is that they loved it. ... It is a field trip for the kids, so they are excited when they get here, and then we put something in front of them that is so visually impressive.”

During the program, students are divided into groups of 10 and rotate through a 1,200-square-foot walk-through exhibit representing the human body that teaches children how the foods they eat affect their bodies.

At each station, representing parts of the body such as the lungs, intestines, brain, mouth, etc., volunteers will narrate the function of that organ. There are interactive displays at most of the different stations.

Liberty Drive Elementary student Madison Kenney said she really enjoyed the hands-on displays and learning new things about the body.

“I think it’s really cool,” Madison said. “My favorite part was the skin. It was interesting to learn that there are so many different ways you can hurt your skin. All the props and the different things we got to hold makes it fun to learn.”

“I liked it, and I learned a lot,” Noah said. “My favorite part was the teeth. We got to floss the big teeth and use the big toothbrush. … It makes learning fun, and it will help me remember things better that I have learned in class.”

In another part of the program, each student is assigned a different food, such as cheese, sausage and various fruits. During the program, the student learns how that specific food interacts with different organs, such as the impact of sugar on the liver.

Ricky Murphy, a teacher at Liberty Drive, said the Speedway to Healthy exhibit does a great job of supporting the curriculum they teach in the classroom.

“We don’t have as many hands-on activities, so the students can get into these booths and interact with materials that we don’t have access to,” Murphy said. “They really love it; you see their eyes light up and their smiles. The learning becomes deeper if you can experience it, touch it, feel it, see it. It becomes more real to you than me just speaking from the front of the class”

Hames said the health department holds events like this to reach students at an early age so they can begin making health choices that have a positive impact when they are adults.

“We are trying to make it a lifestyle behavior and build it into their lives,” Hames said. “It goes back to the issues, such as obesity, that have an impact on the community. We want them to learn early to make good choices and to understand why they are making those choices.”

Sharon Myers can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 228, or at Follow Sharon on Twitter: @LexDispatchSM

Images from prior year's event:
Elizabeth Butcher shows students how the kidneys filter blood at the 'Speedway to Healthy' exhibit held at the Davidson County Parks and Recreation Department. [Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch][Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch]
Carmen Carrick (center) teaches Keila Rodriguez and Andrew Chico how to floss teeth in the 'mouth' station at the 'Speedway to Healthy' exhibit held at the Davidson County Parks and Recreation Department on Thursday. [Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch]

Stories from Headlines Network
By Mat Batts / The Dispatch
More than 1,600 fourth-grade students from across Davidson County flooded the Lexington City Department of Parks and Recreation’s gym last week, racing through an hour-long, hands-on program known as the “Speedway to Healthy.”

Hosted by the Davidson County Health Department, in partnership with the Cooperative Extension program at North Carolina A&T State University, the three-day event took a unique approach to teaching kids about childhood obesity and healthy lifestyle best practices.

In small groups of eight to 10, students worked their way through 11 “pit-stops,” each representing a separate part of the human body. Throughout the journey, students identified as different pieces of food and simulated working through the human body. Approximately 30 volunteers split up around each station and presented five-minute mini lessons complete with props and visual aids.

“It’s very much interactive,” said Jen Hames, health department education supervisor and promotion coordinator. “They are showing kids (examples), they are demonstrating things. The kids are involved.”

Hames said last week was the first time the health department has offered the exhibit and said it dovetails nicely with “the obesity epidemic, which is such a big push for us,” in addition to a focus on nutrition education and healthy eating.

“And hopefully because it is interactive it will stick with them longer as they go through school,” Hames said.

Beginning at 8 a.m. last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, classes from both Davidson County Schools and Thomasville City Schools rotated in hour-long blocks to ensure that every student had an opportunity to experience the display.

As students from Liberty Drive Elementary School took their turn Thursday morning, fourth-grade teacher Marcia Nichols watched.

“Kids love field trips,” Nichols said. “They love to get out of the class and this was really good where they can be hands on and they can learn about things that are really beneficial to them that will really help them in their everyday living outside of school.”

Nichols said the Speedway to Healthy exhibit paired well with the fourth-grade science curriculum that students are learning. And for students that might not have an established routine for healthy eating or exercise, Nichols said the program offered important lessons.

“We’re a Title One school. We are a little bit low-income,” she said. “A lot of these kids just simply don’t know. They don’t have the facts or maybe the person they live with wasn’t taught to give them the healthy environment they need, so I think it’s really beneficial to see and actually talk to the nurses.”

Shortly after exiting the exhibit, Liberty Drive student Gavin Bushnell reflected on his experience.

“My favorite part, I think, was the brain,” Gavin said, where he learned that “it can control your taste buds and signal stuff to your body,”

The 10-year-old said he also learned about cavities and dietary needs “and that you can get a bad lung from smoking cigarettes and using tobacco” and “there’s different stuff in the heart where you can get it clogged up and works harder to get blood in your body.”

Teacka Wright, another 10-year-old Liberty Drive student, said her favorite part was learning about the human body, especially “that one way to keep your bones strong is to exercise and you have to eat healthy food.”

Her key takeaways were matter-of-fact: “You have to eat healthy foods to keep your muscles strong,” she said, “And you have to drink eight glasses of water a day.”
Mat Batts can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 227, or at
Follow Mat on Twitter: @LexDispatchMBSee

DCS photos:
Speedway to Healthy