Elementary students put community at ‘heart’ of cause


A Seymour school took steps to help prevent heart disease and raise awareness for heart-related issues by walking circles inside the building.

On Wednesday, the American Heart Association partnered with Margaret R. Brown Elementary School for the annual Walk for Heart to teach children about heart-related health risks and get the students active.

The event comes at a time when the county’s children could use it the most.

“Our children’s generation is the first generation that is expected to have a shorter life expectancy than our generation, all because of heart-related issues,” said Annie Houston, youth marketing director for the American Heart Association. “That’s a scary thing.”

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Houston attributes much of the issues to increased sugar consumption and general childhood health issues, such as obesity and lacking activity.

She said the rate of cardiovascular disease and deaths related to heart issues affect about 30 percent of the county’s population.

That is why she and others believe teaching kids at a young age to increase their activities and stay active is instrumental in their health.

During Walk for Heart, the students walked around the interior of the school, stopping at 20 stations manned by volunteers from different community agencies and volunteers from Seymour High School to complete a physical challenge at each.

For each station the students completed, they received victory stripes on their arm in marker and one victory stripe for each lap completed.

“Our main mission is to get the kids physically active, and this goes right down that path, so that is what it is all about,” said Chris Soriano, recreation director for the Seymour Soccer Association, which ran one of the stations at the event.

The station had students perform five hops.

Stephanie Strothmann with Jackson County United Way had students do five leap frogs.

“I think it is awesome,” she said of the event. “It’s a way to come together and show kids that physical activity can be fun, and it doesn’t take a lot of equipment.”

Houston said the outcome can be changed, and a large part of it is major lifestyle changes, like stopping smoking and giving up soda, a major source of sugar for most children and adults.

There are small steps that anyone can take to make a change in their life, and that starts with a small step, literally.

“Walking,” she said. “Even if you start with 10 minutes and just move around as much as possible, then the next day, increase that.”

Beyond teaching children about health issues that could increase their life expectancy and raise their overall health, the event was a fundraiser for the American Heart Association.

As of Wednesday, Walk for Heart already had raised $5,000 for the American Heart Association.

Students collected donations for the event with the top two winning medals. They were first-graders Amaris Noble and Jalyn Huddleston.

“I like that we help people and that we get healthier,” Jalyn said.

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