Over 60 schools receive financial grants for student health and wellbeing resources including the Northend Elementary School in New Britain
Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge grants allow schools to target whole-body wellness in support of physical and emotional health.
To help students perform better in the classroom and drive long term health benefits, the American Heart Association awards 64 elementary, middle and high schools with grant funding to extend school wellness programs. The grants are a part of the Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™ school-based programs that provide age-appropriate curriculum to educate students about healthy living in a fun and engaging way.
The American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, is helping educators make whole-body wellness a priority by bringing more resources to school campuses. Grant recipients are now able to expand their schools’ wellness offerings with additions such as physical activity equipment, water bottle filling stations and educator training opportunities on their campuses to encourage their students to stay healthy and active. The application process was open to all schools who participated in the school-based programs in the 2022-2023 school year.
In Connecticut, the Northend Elementary School received $1,587 as part of the overall grant. The physical education teacher, Michael Saccuzzo purchased bowling equipment so all students could participate. The bowling equipment includes lane carpets, pins and bowling balls.
“Meeting kids where they are on their path to a healthy lifestyle is critical to the mission of the American Heart Association as we know that healthy habits in childhood help support long term health,” says Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, the AHA’s Chief Medical Officer for Prevention. “It is our intention that these grants help our valued Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge schools supplement resources to enrich the physical and mental wellness of their students.”
With a foundation set in physical activity, Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge have expanded beyond the gymnasium to meet the needs of today’s youth and educators as science has proven the strong connection between physical and mental health. Kids Heart Challenge offers a variety of physical activities to get elementary students’ hearts pumping such as dance, basketball or jumping rope paired with digital mission to learn life-saving skills such as Hands-Only CPR™. The American Heart Challenge is a service-learning program for middle and high school students. The program also helps boost heart health and self-esteem, while reducing stress and anxiety through programs featuring yoga, dance, and obstacle courses.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, only 20% of kids get enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. Both the Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge are rooted in proven science, which has shown that kids who are regularly active have a better chance of a healthy adulthood.
Funds raised by Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge participants support the American Heart Association’s scientific research and outreach programs, paving the way for improved health outcomes for healthier communities. Schools are encouraged to register now for the 2023-2024 school year. The program provides grant funding twice a year, mid-school year and year end, to provide resources in real time to students. Since the grant program began in 2019, over a million dollars has been granted to schools to support projects that make schools healthier.
To learn more about the American Heart Association’s kid’s initiatives, or to make a donation, please visit www.heart.org/kids.