Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with strokes coming in at number four. Since these diseases most often strike in later years rarely do we think of children when we think of cardiovascular health problems. However, a recent study by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that adolescents are performing poorly when it comes to cardiovascular health.
Not surprising: diet and exercise are the key culprits when it comes to poor cardiovascular health with youth. For Partnering for Youth (PFY), the after school program in Queen Anne’s County and a Foundation for Community Partnerships Fund, these facts served as a teaching opportunity. Since the beginning of this year, PFY has been teaching the science behind cardiovascular health in the county’s middle schools through an interactive program called the Cardio-Fit Project. Funded by a $192,000 grant from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program, the Cardio-Fit Project mixes instruction about fitness and heart health with physical exercise and training during after school program programming.
Now area families have the opportunity to learn about the Cardio-Fit Project at an upcoming interactive fitness expo on Saturday, December 1, at Kent Island High School, Stevensville, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The free event is open to the public. Featured activities include:
• Ticker Trot 5k Run/Walk and Fun Run
• Basketball and flag football competitions
• Exhibits featuring health, wellness, nutrition, athletic leagues, fitness equipment and products
• Health screenings
• Zumba, yoga and boot camp demonstrations
5k Run/Walk and Fun Run
Non-refundable pre-registration for the 5K Run/Walk is $15, which includes a race t-shirt. Race Day registration is $20. Register online at MarylandTeamSports.com by November 30th. The free Fun Run is open to children age 10 years and younger. For more information contact Rick Tyng at (410) 758-4177 or email@example.com.
“We have more than 300 middle school students participating in the Cardio-Fit project, and we are seeing incredible results in both what the students are learning and how it is improving their cardiovascular health,” says Kim Umberger, Partnering for Youth Program Director. “Taking this program to the greater community through the expo will allow us to make an even bigger difference to area families,” she adds.
Last spring four middle schools participated in the Cardio-Fit Project with a total project enrollment of 349 students, ages 11-14. Thirty activities were offered. In post session surveys, 93% of the participants reported “improved knowledge of fitness & nutrition.” Baseline health assessments were collected from 311 participants and 284 performed the PACER test (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run) that measures aerobic capacity. To measure the project this fall, Cardio-Fit participants will perform the pre and post knowledge test and continue with health assessments and PACER testing.
“We are beginning to see the benefits that the Partnering for Youth Cardio-Fit Project can offer in decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, Chairman of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. “The youth of Queen Anne’s County are benefitting from an innovative program that aims to improve cardiovascular health.”
The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program was launched in 2010 through a charitable contribution of $25 million from AstraZeneca. The program awards grants of $150,000 and up to U.S.-based non-profit organizations that are doing innovative work in the field of cardiovascular health. The Partnering for Youth Cardio-Fit Project focuses on screening initiatives that identify patients with or at-risk of cardiovascular disease as well as innovative education programs aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease by inspiring youth, families and the community to develop healthy eating habits and physically active lifestyles.
In photo: Kim Umberger, Partnering for Youth Program Director, right, works out fitness expo details with Rick Tyng, Partnering for Youth Project Coordinator. The Cardio-Fit Expo will be held Saturday, December 1, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kent Island High School, 900 Love Point Road, Stevensville. Funded by AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program, the Expo is open to the public. All activities except the 5K Run/Walk are free. For more information contact Rick Tyng at (410) 758-4177 or firstname.lastname@example.org.