Hank, 6 Sophia, 10 Chase, 10
The American Heart Association has selected two 10-year-olds and one 6-year-old from the Hudson Valley to serve as volunteer local Youth Heart Ambassadors for the 2023-2024 school year. They are from Farley Elementary School in Stony Point; George Fischer Middle School in Carmel; and Minisink Elementary School in Slate Hill.
Chase Teichmann of Stony Point, Sophia Pinto of Carmel and Hank Bobrick of Westtown, will work closely with the American Heart Association’s in-school programs, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™ to actively and passionately champion other children to establish healthy habits to better mental and physical well-being.
The American Heart Association accepted nominations from young people who have been affected by heart disease or stroke either through a personal diagnosis, diagnosis of a loved one, or has made a personal lifestyle change, to serve in the Youth Heart Ambassador role.
Sophia was born with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome, which means the right-sided structures of her heart are underdeveloped or not formed. Sophia also has pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum and tricuspid atresia.
She has had three open-heart surgeries, the first when she was one week old; the second when she was four-and-a-half months old and the third one -which she hopes will be her last – when she was three-and-a-half.
“I want to be an ambassador because it’s important to keep you heart healthy, and to spread awareness,” Sophia said. She was also a Youth Ambassador during the past school year.
Chase Teichmann is a fan of Roblox, and loves to play hockey and baseball. He has coarctation of the aorta, which means that a part of his aorta was narrower than usual at birth. In his first days of life, Chase’s mother noticed that her son slept a lot and had trouble eating. At 10 days old, he had heart surgery. Through frequent, ongoing pediatric cardiology care Chase has been able to live an active life. When he was 8, he started to have difficulty moving and walking. He had his second heart procedure to help maintain heart health. Today, he has a stent and feels great. Chase said these moments have helped him feel strong, and by being a Youth Ambassador, he hopes he can help others.
“I have met a lot of people that have been kind and helpful to me,” Chase said. “I want to be kind and helpful to them. Maybe I can give them the advice and courage to be strong like I was.”
Hank Bobrick was also born with hypoplastic right heart syndrome, criss-cross heart and double outlet right ventricle. He likes things to do with farming, Scouts, and playing guitar. Hank’s mother explained that he’s proud of his story, and wants to give a little courage to other children with similar situations.
The Youth Heart Ambassadors serve a one-year commitment as a volunteer of the American Heart Association assisting the organization to be a relentless force for healthier lives for all. The position gives youth a voice to encourage, advocate and underscore the need for to raise critical funding as they share the impact cardiovascular disease has had on their life.
“It’s exciting to see two of our local youth share their voice and experience to help others live heart healthy” said Alex DiCicco, Academic Quality Analyst, Johnson & Wales University and chair of the Hudson Valley Board of Directors for the American Heart Association. “Chase and Sophia have incredible stories to share and we are excited to see the impact they will make in our local schools and in our community.
Rooted in physical activity, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™ are service-learning programs that teach students how to improve their overall health while doing good for the health of others. Through interactive curriculums and various online challenges, participating students get active and have fun while raising funds and awareness for congenital heart defects, nutrition security, CPR training, mental well-being and more. These collective efforts help further the American Heart Association’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.
Schools interested in participating in either Kids Heart Challenge™ or American Heart Challenge™ receive expanded curriculum resources for both classrooms and in-home learning environments can register now for next school year. To learn more about our school programs please visit www.heart.org/getstarted. More information can be found online, heart.org/youthambassadors.