If you have a son or daughter who completed grade 9 in one of the 12 municipalities of Niagara, there’s a good chance that your child participated in Heart Niagara’s Healthy Heart Schools’ Program. Established in 1987, the Schools’ Program is now available to students in grades 5, 7, and 9. You can learn more about this program by exploring our website, but one document you may be familiar with is our Take-Home Sheet. All students receive one of these sheets with their assessment day results on the front. The back of the sheet, in large lettering, reads, “Choose Now!” Our hope is that this double-sided document will encourage discussion on heart health and the choices that family members can make together and individually to live longer, healthier lives.
The five topics highlighted on our take home document all intertwine: Physical Activity Habits, Sweet Beverages, Fast Food, Media Time/Screen Time, and Family Meals. These topics are drawn from the work of Dr. Goutham Rao (1, 2, 3). Dr. Rao is a friend of Heart Niagara’s own Dr. Zimakas and spoke at our 2008 Annual Meeting and 2007 Fit for the Future event. While most of these keys to heart health and preventing childhood obesity are now well recognized, our work in schools (particularly our student health questionnaires) demonstrates that many children and families are not making healthy choices. Of course, there are countless reasons for this. We understand that parents are busier than ever, fast food is readily available, electronic devices are increasingly integral to both work and play… the list goes on and on. We get it! And we just want to make things easier.
To inspire you, we will be rolling out blog entries on our Choose Now! tips over the next several weeks. Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, we challenge you to take control of your heart health and be a strong role model for your friends and family.
If you have any suggestions for blog topics or want to provide feedback, please feel free to use the comments section below this blog, or share via Facebook or Twitter. We are also working on an updated FAQ for the Healthy Heart Schools’ Program so stay tuned for that.
By Aaryn Secker
Aaryn earned her BEd at McGill University in Montreal and her MEd at Brock University in St. Catharines. She is currently the Education and Communications Coordinator at Heart Niagara and has an interest in community learning.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in blog entries are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Heart Niagara.