More than half of PWCS schools participate in American Heart Association heart challenges
Posted on 09/16/2019
Heat with state of Virginia outline #1 in Virginia for support of the American Heart Association

For Kerrydale Elementary fifth grade teacher Jennifer Kosar, the school’s annual American Heart Association (AHA) Kids Heart Challenge is especially meaningful. Her son, a third grader at Kerrydale, was born with a congenital heart defect and needed a heart transplant as an infant. Today her son is active and doing well, and Kosar is grateful to see so many families at Kerrydale involved in healthy-heart activities and fundraising.
Kerrydale Nurse Ashley Gardner with 3rd grade student heart transplant recipient and Finn, a heart warrior for AHA
Heart disease is the nation’s leading cause of death but in many cases can be 80 percent preventable through lifestyle changes and choices. PWCS and SPARK, the Education Foundation for PWCS, have partnered with the American Heart Association to educate students and prepare them for healthier futures.

Kerrydale is joined by more than 50 schools across the school division that participate in one or more of the American Heart Association’s Community Service-Learning Programs which combine awareness efforts and fundraising. Programs like the Kids Heart Challenge at the elementary level and the American Heart Challenge for older students educate through social and emotional lessons and curriculum aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning which are incorporated in physical education, music, art, science, and technology. Student from Alvey Elementary participating in Kids Heart ChallengeParticipating schools are actively involved in raising funds for AHA and often hold culminating events like jump rope and/or basketball activities and even a glow in the dark family dance party like the one at Kerrydale.

Kerrydale staff gets ready for Glow Night Dance Party Ashley Gardner is the school nurse at Kerrydale who helps lead the charge for healthy-heart habits among students and families. “Our own heart warrior students and their parents have taken time to share their stories during our Kids Heart Challenge activities,” shared Gardner. “I truly feel like this helps our students understand the money raised is going to help kids just like them and their friends.”

To date nearly 2,850 PWCS students have taken a “Heart Hero Challenge,” and many staff members too are making pledges to be more heart-healthy, including Superintendent Steve Walts.

The outstanding participation and fundraising in our schools have made PWCS No.1 in Virginia for support, promotion, and partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA). PWCS is also one of the top 20 AHA partnering school districts nationwide.

“Our ‘HEARTnership’ is so strong here,” shared American Heart Association Youth Market Director Marjorie ChurchBourne, who serves as the AHA representative for PWCS. “The staff, students, and communities within PWCS make physical, social, and emotional wellness a priority, and it’s making a difference for the future of our kids and for all of us!”

Advocacy for Physical Education in schools is also part of AHA’s mission and that means big benefits for schools. A portion of the monies raised by PWCS schools during Heart Challenge activities are given directly back to the schools who raise them to fund new physical education equipment. Nearly $16,000 was returned to schools in PWCS last school year for acquisition of PE resources and equipment.

Last school year, the AHA also provided a personal and portable CPR Training kit to each elementary and middle school to use to help teach students and staff important life-saving measures.

“All of you who help make a difference are truly Heart Heroes, “added ChurchBourne. “We are saving and improving lives every year thanks to school districts like Prince William County. You are truly a district full of heart.”

Students forming heart shape on gym floor. Gravely Elementary Sea-dogs have such big Hearts!Representatives from top 10 PWCS Heart Hero Schools at School Board Meeting

Top 10 PWCS “Heart Hero Schools”  

Alvey Elementary
Ashland Elementary
Haymarket Elementary
Gravely Elementary
Kyle R. Wilson Elementary
Marshall Elementary
Pattie Elementary
Rosa Parks Elementary
Springwoods Elementary
The Nokesville School