Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge grants allow schools to target whole-body wellness in support of physical and emotional health
The American Heart Association’s school-based youth programs, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™, awarded $400,000 in grants to more than 180 elementary, middle and high schools across the country who participated in either the in-school or digital programs for the 2019-2020 school year, including two schools in Connecticut.
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 implement a variety of wellness activities with additions such as physical activity equipment, thermometers to screen for COVID-19, water bottle filling stations and educator training opportunities on their campuses.
Kids Heart Challenge offers physical activations to get elementary students’ hearts pumping such as hoops 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 helps boost heart health and self-esteem, while reducing stress and anxiety through programs feature dance and obstacle courses. Both program 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.
“Schools are a critical link in providing the foundation for cardiovascular wellness in our country by helping students develop healthy habits at an early age,” said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., MPH, FAAFP, the American Heart Association’s chief medical officer for prevention. “The Association’s youth programs help students learn about heart health, find fun ways to stay physically active, and provide valuable physical education curriculum. With the addition of the grant program, teachers gain access to funds to take their efforts to the next level, making an even greater impact on their students, families and local communities.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americansonly 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 improved 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 the school-based programs to bring expanded curriculum resources to students in the 2020-21 school year. All participating schools are eligible to apply for the next grant cycle.
Twenty-one schools in the American Heart Association’s Eastern States Affiliate received grants including two Connecticut schools:
- * Shelter Rock School of Danbury will receive S.T.E.M and PE equipment
- * Union School of Union will receive canoes and snowshoes
To learn more about other school programs, or to make a donation to the American Heart Association, please visit www.heart.org/kids.