Kids Heart Challenge Awards Grants To Elementary Schools

Posted By on September 5, 2019
[Tim Hacker/ Mesa Public Schools]

The American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge awarded more than $400,000 to more than 170 elementary schools who participated in the program’s inaugural year, 2018-19.

In Mesa, Whitman Elementary has received $4,999 for active seating in the classroom. In Flagstaff, John Q. Thomas Elementary has received $3,050 for upgrading and repairing the playground.

The Kids Heart Challenge offers four physical activations to get students’ hearts pumping: jumping rope, practicing basketball skills, dancing or completing an obstacle course. The curriculum prepares kids for success by supporting their physical and emotional well-being, offers new learning resources and physical activities to meet the needs of today’s youth and educators.

Grant recipients are now able to implement a variety of wellness activities with additions such as physical activity equipment, a mobile salad bar, CPR training resources, water bottle filling stations and educator training opportunities on their campuses.

“Schools play an essential role in empowering cardiovascular health, specifically in the lives of young students,” said Justin Kelton, 2018-2019 Board Chair for the American Heart Association Phoenix division and President of McCarthy Building Companies’ Southwest Region. “The Kids Heart Challenge teaches children exciting and fun ways to be physically active and move more. It inspires today’s youth to learn more about heart health and the grant program will help make an even greater impact in the lives of students, teachers and the overall community. “

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans only 20 percent of kids get enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. The Kids Heart Challenge is rooted in proven science which has shown that kids who are regularly active have a better chance of a healthy adulthood.

In addition to improved physical health, the benefits of physical activity for children include better grades, school attendance and classroom behavior. Physical activity can also help kids feel better, improve mental health, build self-esteem, and decrease and prevent conditions such as anxiety and depression.

“Many of our kids here have special and unique needs to get and keep their attention when in the classroom and they need something to help them focus,” said Cara Shinjo from Whitman Elementary. “These active seating options are wonderful and support their learning. Our kids and teachers love these amazing alternatives to their normal seating options, so we are thrilled to be a recipient of this grant.”

Funds raised by Kids Heart Challenge participants support the American Heart Association’s scientific research and outreach programs, paving the way for technological breakthroughs to improve health outcomes while creating healthier communities. Schools are encouraged to register now for the Kids Heart Challenge to bring expanded curriculum resources to their classrooms in the 2019-20 school year. All participating schools are eligible to apply for grants ranging from $250 to $3,500.

“We are now able to have water on the playground thanks to the American Heart Association Kids Heart Challenge grant,” said Jana Fix from John Q Thomas Elementary. “I am so excited our wheeling water is ordered and should be here soon!”

Ashley Ford

About Ashley Ford

Ashley Ford is Assistant Publisher of Frontdoors Media. She can be reached at