H2K Heart Healthy Kid Elementary School Program

Organization Sponsor: Maritime Heart Center

Organization Partner: Dalhousie University


Program Description

Our multidisciplinary group developed a 3 year research project targeting school aged children through education and enabling to give them the skills to achieve heart health. Project goals include:

  1. change the culture at school and home that has led to an epidemic of CAD in Atlantic Canada,
  2. initiate primary prevention of heart disease by educating elementary school children and their caregivers about modifiable risk factors, 
  3. give people the tools for establishing a heart healthy lifestyle.

Education forums, tailored to Grades 4, 5 and 6, are held twice a year for 3 years, focusing on four topic pillars: heart anatomy and function, risk factor modification, smoking and nutrition. Pre and post-tests judge the efficacy of knowledge transfer. Students receive a pedometer and log their daily physical activity. Teams composed of members from each grade are "virtually" walking across Canada. Monthly student rallies provide motivation with speakers and sport instructors who lead the students in new and alternate modes of exercise. Parental surveys are administered twice a year to assess caregivers' impressions of their children's health and activity level. Nursing students are developing tool kits for parents and caregivers to assist with healthy lifestyle choices. Working with school staff, school board, Department of Health, and other partners, this project aims to enhance a healthy lifestyle for children to prevent or reduce the increasing prevalence of CAD.

Program Approximate Cost: 


Funding Sources: 

Maritime Health Center,Pfizer Canada,Curwin Medical,Cobequid Community Health Board, Capital District Health Authority, Research Power Incorporated.

Strategies For Sustainability: 

The Maritime Heart Center has as a goal to be involved in active prevention of heart disease. The primary purpose is to change the culture that has lead to the epidemic of coronary heart disease. The project has an education and physical activity component.

Impact Of Program: 

This project has 98% participation of the school kids. It has inspired the teachers and through the children the concepts are taken home and families have also become involved.This project was selected as a Public Health Promising Practice for publication and to be part of the Canadian Cardiovasular Congress 2007 annual scientific meeting.

Evaluation Tools: 

The kids keep weekly journals. The data is collected then analyzed by the Dalhousie Statistics Department.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

Having a principal who is engaged in the project is key. The staff of the school have started daily power walks so the children are immersed in an environment of physical activity.
The kids formed teams and had friendly competition with each other. The team of health professional that volunteered for this project also added to its success.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

Record keeping is a big task. Having the kids keep track of their walking distance is a challenge. These results must be collected weekly then analyzed. Partnership with Dalhousie has made this possible.

Length and Stage of Project: 

This project began in 2006 as a 3 year pilot project. Its success has inspired others schools to participate.

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