For over 43 years, the American Heart Association (AHA) has helped prepare kids for success by supporting their physical, mental, and emotional well-being through the Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge.
Now more than ever, it takes an extraordinary commitment to support students’ overall health. The AHA recommends children age 6 to 17 get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, but less than one-quarter of today’s youth are meeting this benchmark. Furthermore, fewer than 10% of kids are following a healthy, nutritious diet, and carrying extra weight during childhood poses serious health risks into adulthood.
Given the vital role these early years play, the AHA’s school initiatives assist educators in ensuring all students can grow to reach their full potential.
In Virginia, 321 schools partnered with the AHA to leverage our learning resources and physical education activities in the classroom. During the 2021-2022 academic year, over 22,000 kids accepted the challenge to be kind or move more, and many shared resources with their families to learn Hands-Only CPR, recognize the signs of a stroke or help their loved ones get active.
Collectively, Virginia schools raised over $1.7 million to help save and improve lives across the globe, and those raising at least $1,500 received direct givebacks to benefit their students. Check out our report card to see your impact this year, and shoutout to our top 10 participating schools!
Join us in welcoming and celebrating the lives and stories of our Youth Heart Ambassadors!
In preparation for the 2022-2023 academic year, the AHA proudly introduces Virginia Youth Heart Ambassadors based in Prince William and Northumberland counties. Ambassadors are the heart of our in-school programs, sharing their stories and elevating their voices to inspire their peers to live healthier lives.
Grade 3 | Prince William County Public Schools
Chace was born with a congenital heart disease (CHD) called Tetralogy of Fallot, a condition caused by a combination of four heart defects that are present at birth. He underwent lifesaving surgery at just two-weeks old, but experienced complications and was unable to eat by mouth until he was four years old. Today, Chace is an active third grader who loves swimming, soccer, acting and modeling. He will need another surgery as an adult.
“My son inspired me to share his story because I believe you’re never in a fight alone,” Chace’s father Robert said. “No matter what you’re going through, no matter how dark it might seem, there’s always a community around to help you.”
Grade 2 | Prince William County Public Schools
At 12 days old, Brady was rushed to the hospital as he was struggling to breathe. Doctors found he had a heart condition called Aortic Coarctation, and days later, he underwent surgery to repair a kink in his aorta. Hospital staff praised Brady’s parents for their quick action, saying had they waited even one more hour to see a doctor, Brady’s organs could have started to shut down.
Today, Brady is a healthy seven-year-old who enjoys baseball and martial arts. “When I’m all grown up, I want to be a heart surgeon,” he said.
Meet Olivia “Via”
Grade 9 | Northumberland County Public Schools
In 2017, Via’s dad experienced a sudden cardiac arrest. He survived because a bystander started early CPR. After almost losing her dad, Via became a passionate advocate for the Kids Heart Challenge, striving to raise awareness of CPR skills and lifesaving funds fueling research in cardiovascular science. She even made a bet with her brother that whoever fundraised fewer dollars would have to shave their head!
“The Kids Heart Challenge really means a lot to me, and it is absolutely incredible to share our story with others,” Via said regarding her role as an Ambassador.
Sharing the stories of the work of the American Heart Association to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.