The American Heart Association’s school-based youth programs, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™, awarded 52 elementary, middle and high schools across the country through annual grant program which funds resources to extend or support school wellness programs. Locally, Waterbury’s Children’s Community School will receive $2,856 for physical education program development.
The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health 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, thanks to the average grant being $2,400. The application process was open to all schools who participated in the school-based programs in the 2020-2021 school year.
“This past school year presented a unique learning environment for students and educators which only deepened the importance of physical health and mental well-being,” said Kim Slone, executive vice president for development and community health for the American Heart Association. “It is our intention that these grants help our valued Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge schools supplement resources to enrich the physical education of their students.”
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 missions to learn life-saving skills like 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. Both programs’ curriculums help prepare kids for success by supporting physical and emotional well-being, while offering new learning resources and physical activities to meet the needs of today’s youth and educators.
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.
In addition to physical health, the benefits of physical activity for children include improved grades, school attendance and classroom behavior. Physical activity can also help kids feel better, improve mental health, build self-esteem and decrease and prevent conditions such as anxiety and depression.
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 2021-2022 school year. The program will now provide funding twice a year, mid-school year and year end, to provide resources in real time to students. The grant application process will move to two deadlines: December 15, 2021 and May 31, 2022.
To learn more about the American Heart Association’s kids initiatives, or to make a donation, please visit www.heart.org/kids.