According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 17% of American children are obese. As obesity can lead to a plethora of health problems, the prevalence of it is a serious problem. BYU Neuroscience professor Jonathan Wisco recognized this and founded the Anatomy Academy to combat the nationwide epidemic by teaching children about healthy living.
What is it?
The program recruits BYU students to go visit local fifth and sixth grade classes to teach the kids about healthy living. “You’re teaching all these young kids how to take care of themselves so that they can be healthy in the future, and they won’t have to go to the hospital,” said former BYU student and Academy mentor Janeen Williamson.
Dr. Wisco, in an interview with KBYU Radio’s Top of Mind host Julie Rose, said that some of the activities the mentors and middle schoolers do are:
- Measuring out the amount of sugar in foods, especially drinks, so that the kids can see how much sugar they’re really consuming
- Studying a cow heart to gain an increased understanding of how the organ works
- Playacting as blood cells to better comprehend how the heart functions
- Inflating cow lungs with a straw
By having students engage in hands-on activities, Dr. Wisco believes that they will learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. And they seem to be getting the message. A mother of one his students received a call from her son’s camp leader. While on a camping trip, her son would not sit next to the fire because he didn’t want to inhale the smoke. “It was a little extreme, but he clearly got the message,” said Dr. Wisco.
How did Anatomy Academy begin? While Wisco was employed at UCLA’s medical school, he and other faculty members were “looking for an impactful way to help our medical students translate complicated medical information to a population that’s often ignored. And those are junior high students.” While there are programs and classes for high school students, very little was being done for those in middle school and junior high. Anatomy Academy was introduced to a school in the area, eventually spreading to Utah when Dr. Wisco became a professor at BYU. Since then, it has “just exploded.” Through word of mouth, it has spread to a profusion of states.
“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have,” said former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Through his Anatomy Academy, he is giving the rising generation invaluable instruction about how to live a healthy lifestyle.
What tips or healthy recipes have helped you or your kids lead healthier lifestyles?