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Three Schools Take Heart Healthy Challenge

Heart 1 JUNE 12, 2019 – Earlier in the school year, Tiffany Turner, the Youth Director of the American Heart Association, issued a Heart Healthy Challenge to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools.

With the support of Sara Harmon, the school system’s Program Manager for Health & Physical Fitness, and of Beverly Emory, who was superintendent at the time, the challenge was to have at least 50 percent of the students and staff at a school commit to meeting at least one of three goals:

1) Drink water rather than sugary beverages every day

2) Do 1 hour of physical activity daily

3) Do one good deed daily for at least the month period where they ran their Kids Heart Challenge.

Teachers at three schools – Smith Farm Elementary, Walkertown Middle, Kernersville Middle – accepted the Superintendent’s Challenge, as it was called.

Lizz Bujnak, the Physical Education Specialist at Smith Farm, said: “At Smith Farm Elementary, we had students sign up during computer class, and some teachers even helped their classes sign up. We had a prize for the class that had the most students go online and sign-up to take the challenge.”

Heart 2 “Students really enjoyed choosing their own challenge. Some paired up with a friend and chose the same challenge so they could do it together.”

“The American Heart Association app keeps track of everything online! I put up a poster with all the classes and tracked what percentage the classes had signed up. The students could stop by and see what class was in the lead. We ended up getting five classes with 100 percent sign-up so we had to raffle the prize between those classes.”

At Walkertown Middle, Health, Family Life & Physical Education teachers Kishon Bishop and Kathryn Ward took up the challenge.

Here is what Bishop had to say:

“After we became educated about the challenge, we decided it was something important and we can use it to help our students grow. Therefore, our students were able to practice/build a good habit and learn how they impact their lives positively.”

“We were able to get over 60% of our students to accept one of the three challenges.”

What did they do to encourage participation?

Heart 3 “Make it a contest: 

  1. 1. Knowing that their classmates were also accepting a challenge, students' competitive nature caused them try their very best. 
  2. Mrs. Ward created an EXCELLENT incentive, to reward students who accepted a challenge and donated to the Kids Heart Challenge.  

“Ms. Ward's incentive: We agreed that girls will compete against boys (each grade level). The team who completes their challenges and raise the most funds/grade-level, will "pie" the other teacher IN FRONT OF THE ENTIRE GRADE-LEVEL. Mrs. Ward (girls) won the 6th contest, Mr. Bishop won 7th & 8th and ALL of the students were EXCITED of being allowed post the PE teachers being pied on social media.”  

How did they keep track of everything?

“Technology (cell phones and tablets): Because all registrations were done online, the Kids Heart Challenge software allowed us to sort students in categories (according to the challenge they accepted). Mr. Bishop also taught his students how to use the ‘Health’ and ‘My Plate’ apps to help them log and report their progress.”

Heart 4 “I’m finishing my fifth year here at Walkertown Middle School and I’m honored to be able to help the American Heart association battle heart diseases.”

At Kernersville Middle, Craig Thompson, the Health & Physical Education Teacher, accepted the challenge.

“Smith Farm, Kernersville Middle and Walkertown Middle all earned $500 from the American Heart Association for their PE programs since they were able to meet the challenge this year,” Harmon said.

For the 2019-20 school year, the American Heart Association will be offering schools the opportunity to issue a Principal’s Challenge.

 “If the principal/school accepts, then we will be asking 50 percent of their students/staff to take one of the following three health challenges: 1) Be Prepared/Be Ready; 2) Move More; and 3) Be Kind,” Turner said.

 “The American Heart Association selected these three health challenges to align with N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Whole School Whole Community Whole Child Approach. It will also allow students and staff to define their goal as is fit for them! Any school that hits the 50 percent or more mark will earn an additional $500 back to their school.”