Massachusetts schools prioritize physical activity to boost students’ well-being during uncertain year

METHUEN – Studies have shown physical activity can lessen children’s anxiety and depression – two issues that have been of increasing concern to parents and educators during the pandemic.

The American Heart Association and the Comprehensive Grammar, Marsh Grammar, and Tenney Grammar schools in Methuen are helping students improve physical and emotional well-being during this uncertain school year through Kids Heart Challenge.

The in-school curriculum is rooted in proven science which has shown that kids who are regularly active can help kids feel better, improve mental health, build self-esteem, and decrease and prevent conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Methuen schools have participated in the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge for 22 years. This year, Methuen students raised over $20,000 in funds to support the mission of the American Heart Association.

This year, the program was led by physical education teachers Laurie James and Michelle Kulberg (Marsh Grammar), Stefanie Boudreau and Kristen Swales (Tenney Grammar), and Tania Beauregard (Comprehensive Grammar).

The educational curriculum and physical activities included in the Kids Heart Challenge program help meet the needs of today’s youth and educators in virtual, hybrid and socially distanced classroom settings. The program, a successful part of thousands of schools for more than 40 years, targets improving whole-body wellness, which is vital to drive immediate and long-term health as social distancing lingers.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans only 20% of kids get enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. In addition to improved physical health, the benefits of physical activity for children include better grades, school attendance and classroom behavior.

Funds raised by Kids Heart Challenge participants support the American Heart Association’s scientific research and outreach programs, paving the way for technological breakthroughs to improve health outcomes while creating healthier communities.