HealthWorks! turns 5: Games, new exhibits mark anniversary

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By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Kids crawled through arteries, bounced in a giant mouth and watched lungs inflate and deflate at HealthWorks! fifth anniversary party on Saturday.

“We’re celebrating in fives: five senses, five food groups, five alarm fires with firefighters,” said director Kathy Tucker. “And we’re throwing in a bit of education.”

The party included new heart and lung exhibits and games such as blowing up balloons to see who had the biggest lung capacity.

There was also a whole lot of playing: Some played hopscotch, some rode the pulse racing bikes and others played a heated game of Lava with Tucker in the Zoom Room.

Robin Carruth and 4-year-old grandson John Everett Carruth just became members of HealthWorks!, and Carruth said she’d seen John Everett take home the lessons learned at the facility.

“He’s at the age where he wants to explore everything,” she said. “He’s learned a lot. He’s learning how to share, how to cooperate, how to take turns.”

The latest exhibits were a hit.

Kids crawled through the heart’s arteries – some of which were blocked or partially blocked with yellow gym mats to resemble cholesterol – and watched the lungs function. Both exhibits can be taken out on the road for an outreach program.

“We’re 5, and we’re so well loved. It’s time to update and refresh what we have,” Tucker said.

Julie Hill works at HealthWorks! and her two sons, Charles David, 5, and Chapman, 4, had fun playing in the giant mouth.

“I like playing with the heart,” Charles David said. “I crawled through the tunnels.”

“They’re having fun, but they’re learning,” Hill said.

HealthWorks! is looking ahead to more exhibits in the coming years.

They’ll examine ways to incorporate Common Core, as well as adding information about self-esteem and bullying.

“Looking at social and emotional health is taking care of the whole child,” Tucker said. “We want the kids to have fun, but what we’re trying to do is make the connections so that when they go home, they’ll remember to make healthy choices.”

sheena.barnett@journalinc.com