“One of the four core causes of the American Heart Association is the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a national program to address childhood obesity,” says Ronald L. Copeland, MD, FACS, president and executive medical director of the Ohio Permanente Medical Group. “Cleveland’s Partners for School Health is a perfect fit for this cause. Others in the community — medical professionals, for example — may be aware of the problem of childhood obesity, but only when we create awareness among children and parents will we start getting action.”
Now in its second year, the initiative has expanded to include 20 Cleveland schools. The program is an intervention to help students learn the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle and is funded by the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Fund of The Cleveland Foundation, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, The Mount Sinai Health Care Foundation and St. Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland.
Creating awareness means creativity, and the program asked children to be creative. A poster contest was launched and art teachers from several Cleveland schools provided their students with the opportunity to draw a picture and write an essay that illustrated the importance of exercise and overall good health. A team of judges reviewed the entries, and the works of three students, all from Gracemount School, were selected. As their prize, the students will see their posters on larger-than-life billboards throughout Cuyahoga County thanks to the support of ClearChannel outdoor advertising.
Children, of course, aren’t the only ones who should exercise. That’s why, in addition to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, there are three other core causes of the American Heart Association.
• START! is a national program to encourage adults to walk. Statistics show that adults can add two hours to their life expectancy for each hour they exercise. Workplaces across the country are launching START! programs for their employees with incentives for teams that walk the most miles, measured on pedometers. The START! program was launched nationally in January thanks to sponsorship from Subway, Healthy Choice and AstraZeneca. Locally, the major sponsor for the Cleveland-area START! program is the Cleveland Clinic.
• Go Red For Women is a year-round awareness and call-to-action campaign to keep women heart-healthy. Women are at high risk for heart disease and stroke — the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of American women, respectively. The goal of the Heart Association this year is to have one million women log onto www.goredforwomen.org and take the Go Red Heart Checkup
• The Power to End Stroke campaign encourages African-Americans to reduce stroke risk factors and recognize stroke warning signs. The risk for strokes is higher among African Americans than any other group.
While everyone should eat well and exercise regularly, the American Heart Association is particularity concerned about at-risk groups and has targeted their four causes at children (Alliance for a Healthier Generation), sedentary working adults (START!), women (Go Red For Women) and African Americans (Power To End Stroke). Four causes, but one mission — Learn and Live.