DAYTON — Students in elementary schools in Dayton and around the country have a new way to move their bodies toward heart health, earn benefits for their schools and give back to their community this school year.
The American Heart Association recently announced details of its new, trademarked, Kids Heart Challenge, which includes jump rope, basketball, dance and warrior (obstacle course) components. The Kids Heart Challenge marks the Association’s 40th year working in schools, and meets the changing needs of today’s youth and educators by preparing kids for success through physical and emotional well-being.
“I‘m really excited about all of the new changes in the American Heart Association’s youth programs,” said Kerry Boldish, youth market director for the American Heart Association, Miami Valley Division. “We can’t wait to present new programs that address the physical and emotional wellbeing of our children.”
The Kids Heart Challenge encourages heart-healthy behavior as students pledge to be more physically active, drink more water and do a good deed. For teachers, the Kids Heart Challenge offers four activations to get students’ hearts pumping, including:
• Kids Heart Challenge Jump — With jump ropes in hand, students learn about the many health benefits of jumping rope – it burns calories, builds agility and increases bone density – while competing in challenges to complete the most jumps in a minute.
• Kids Heart Challenge Hoops — Playing basketball not only builds character, it reveals it through team work and comradery. Students aim, shoot, cheer and celebrate as they take the court for Kids Heart Challenge Hoops. It’s not only fun for them, it’s good for their emotional well-being.
• Kids Heart Challenge Dance — Students will get moving and laughing as they dance to the “Cha Cha Slide” or “Space Jam” and show off their hip-hop or Virginia reel skills. This offers the opportunity for children to get plenty of physical activity while learning self-confidence, creativity and collaboration.
• Kids Heart Challenge Warrior — The obstacle course craze hits schools with Kids Heart Challenge Warrior. Students will crawl, run and leap their way to a cardio-pumping great time as they dart through cones, fly over hurdles or tip-toe across the balance beam. Warrior events give students feelings of achievement and strength while they cheer each other on.
In addition to the new activations, the Kids Heart Challenge provides enhanced give-backs, direct contributions to schools and new curriculum for teachers supporting whole-child centered learning. As in previous years, certificates to purchase physical education equipment from an expanded US Games catalog are available. Participating schools are also eligible to apply for the new grant program, furthering the health impact teachers can have with their students.
The enhanced curriculum available with the Kids Heart Challenge includes a series of classroom-based physical activity plans and resources that support social and emotional learning. Teachers also gain access to OPEN (Online Physical Education Network), which provides physical education curriculum resources and physical activity programming.
Funds raised by the Kids Heart Challenge supports advocacy initiatives to keep physical education in schools, ensures kids have access to healthy foods and provides resources to advocate for CPR-in-school laws that ensure every student knows how to save a life. Since 1949, the Association has funded $4.1 billion in research since 1949 and currently funds 2,000 scientists around the United States.
More information about Kids Heart Challenge is available online at heart.org/kidsheartchallenge.
Educators and Kids Heart Challenge coordinators may also join the new Kids Heart Challenge Facebook group, at www.facebook.com/group/kidsheartchallenge, to share stories, best practices and successes.
To learn more about other school programs, or to make a donation to the American Heart Association, please visit www.heart.org.