Healthy Hearts for Life

Healthy Hearts for Life is a physical education project for Western U.P. students grades K-12 and their teachers, schools, families and communities. The goals of the Healthy Hearts project are to enhance physical education instruction and to promote lifelong physical activity and wellness in Western U.P. children.

The federally funded grant provides schools in the Copper Country ISD and Gogebic-Ontonagon ISD regions with the EPEC comprehensive physical education curriculum, heart rate monitors and other equipment, teacher training, and resources for school wellness programs including family wellness nights and after-school fitness clubs.

Family Wellness Nights

Family Wellness Nights, patterned after the Family Science Nights and School Forest Nights familiar to many Western U.P. schools, are a chance to open the school-based physical education program to families and community members, and to extend the learning experience with fun, hands-on activities.

Wellness Nights typically take place in the school for two hours in the early evening. Physical education teachers use students (and their parents, siblings and neighbors) to demonstrate lessons and equipment used in the classroom, while presenters from the school or community lead 20-30 minute sessions on physical activity, nutrition, chronic disease prevention, and other wellness topics. Local health providers may be on hand to offer blood pressure, cholesterol and other health screenings. Activities are repeated two or three times so that families may attend the sessions that interest them. Schools may combine the Wellness Night with a speaker, open house, sports event or other school/community program. Applicants may request up to $900 for Family Wellness Nights, to be used for presenter fees, adult health screenings, printing and supplies, and staff planning time. Many schools serve a light snack or coffee and juice at the conclusion of the wellness night, but no Healthy Hearts funds may be used to purchase food.

Wellness Speakers

In the second mini-grant category, districts may request up to $900 for Wellness Speakers and other resources that help teachers, school staff, families and community members pursue healthy lifestyle choices. Community health partners and other health educators can provide presentations at school open houses, teacher in-services, evening community programs, and other venues that reach teachers and/or families with health and wellness information.

The purpose of funding wellness speakers is to help create an environment where teachers, parents and other role models practice the kind of lifelong physical activity and wellness habits that we want for our children. Funds from this category could be used to bring more presenters and services to the Family Wellness Night (see above), to plan a second wellness night in a different school building, or to support one or more events or programs aimed at supporting staff wellness.

After-school Fitness Clubs

In the third and final category, districts may request up to $750 for Fitness Clubs. A Fitness Club, which typically meets one time per week or more often for at least several weeks, gives students an opportunity to exercise, play games and learn a lifelong physical activity. Fitness Clubs should be open to all students in a particular grade or grades (up to a registration limit set by the school), not just athletes or students who already own the right equipment. Spring varsity football practice or a ski club only for those who own skis definitely would not qualify. Activities like snow shoeing on nearby trails, field trips to a swimming pool, a square dancing club, or an intramural broom ball tournament would qualify, as long as grant funds are used to pay equipment rentals, fees and other potential barriers to participation. Fitness clubs take place after school, either in combination with an existing latch-key program or as a stand-alone activity.

Funds may be used to pay an instructor, or for equipment purchases that will help make the program sustainable, but in order to qualify for a mini-grant, the school must provide a club that meets regularly with adult supervision, whether paid or voluntary. Requests for equipment purchases without an accompanying program will not be approved. As with all Healthy Hearts grants, no funds may be used to purchase food. A school may seek donations for healthy snacks, or purchase them with matching funds or through a modest participant fee such as $1 per session.

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