Tag Archives: American Heart Association

The Importance of Physical Education For Kids

The Importance of Physical Education For Kids

IMG_6837This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Parenting is somewhat of a social experiment, especially when you have multiple kids with different personalities. But as a mother to four kids there are a few certainties that have worked across the board for all of mine. If my kids don’t get enough sleep, they are a mess the next day. If they are hungry, they get cranky, and if they don’t get the opportunity to get out and do something active each day, they get rambunctious. My kids are much more likely to settle down and concentrate when they have had the chance to get some exercise at some point in their day. I feel like those are all pretty common findings among parents. My husband is a physician specializing in cardiac imaging, so he comes at the importance of physical activity from not only a behavioral perspective as a parent, but with knowledge on what a healthy heart looks like. And he comes home from work emphasizing how important physical fitness is to our overall health. I am thrilled to partner with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in advocating for expanded physical education in schools.

Active kids simply learn better.

Our elementary physical education teacher, Ms. Carr taught all four of our kids. Her energy and enthusiasm helped early on to nurture their enjoyment in being active. It became clear to me watching my children thrive, and become more confident under her guidance, how important establishing healthy habits is during primary school for kids. My youngest is now in middle school, but PE is still one of his favorite subjects, and Ms. Carr will always be one of their all time favorite teachers. More recently our state of Rhode Island passed a bond supporting improved parks, bike paths, and recreational areas. As parents, having safe, natural spaces will help to give us more opportunities to augment the 100 minutes per week of physical education required of schools in our state.

Regular physical activity has been scientifically proven to have positive benefits to both body and mind, yet it is too often one of the first programs to be cut from school budgets. It is associated with longer life, lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and even some cancers, physical fitness lowers the risk of mental health problems, and it has been shown to improve academic performance. These benefits are true for all children, no matter where they live, in a rural or urban setting, regardless of race, ethnic, or socio-economic factors. Where a child lives should not dictate their health. Unfortunately, racial and socio-economic inequalities leave many schools without the resources necessary to provide physical education to their kids.


Research shows that kids need 60 minutes of physical activity each day yet only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools, and 2% of high schools provide daily PE or its equivalent for the entire school year. Parent polls show that 95% understand the importance of incorporating PE into the school curriculum. That means that we, as parents, need to raise our voices and make sure that we are looking out for all children in our country by advocating for the inclusion of Physical Education in every state under the federal education law Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. If health and physical education are not core components of the plan, programs will not have access to the funding needed to keep them running.

Our children are the future, and it is up to us as parents to make sure that we are laying the groundwork for their ability to best succeed. Expanded physical education positively impacts the physical, emotional, and mental health of our children, while improving their academic performance. Learn how you can help to give all children the best groundwork for success with increased PE in your community by visiting the Voices For Healthy Kids website.

February is All About The Heart: Alex & Ani Goes Red For The American Heart Association

February is All About The Heart: Alex & Ani Goes Red For The American Heart Association

With my co-Hosts Audrey McClelland and Sherri Tracey at our Alex & Ani Party to benefit The American Heart Association

February is all about the heart, and The American Heart Association wants to raise awareness about the # 1 killer of women (& men) in America.  All this month through events like the Red on the Runway fashion show at Styleweek Northeast, Alex & Ani parties with a purpose, and the Go Red for women luncheon, the message of how to stay heart healthy is being spread.  

On February 1st to help kick off a month of Heart Health awareness for The American Heart Association , (deemed Wear Red Day by the AHA) ,  several  Alex & Ani stores held Parties With A Purpose.  Stores flooded with women in red shopping for a purpose, while awareness was raised about heart health, and the risks for women. The Alex & Ani Best Friends Bangle created in conjunction with The American Heart Association through Alex & Ani Charity By Design, which donates a portion of proceeds from each bangle to the charity.

Having lost my father to heart disease when I was 13 years old, this effort is near and dear to me.   I became involved with The American Heart Association last year, and before then had not realize that Heart Disease was the #1 killer of women.  I was also shocked to meet a couple of survivors who completely went against my perception of what someone who might suffer a heart attack would look like.  Both of them slim, fit, women in their mid-forties who eat right and exercise.

The most poignant quote that I heard from spokesperson Deb Kozial was when she asked her doctor if someone like her, in such good shape, could suffer a heart attack, then why bother doing all of the things she had been doing to stay healthy when it happened anyway? Her doctor replied that if she had not been in such good shape, the two of them would not be sitting there having that conversation, because her body would not have been strong enough to have survived.

The symptoms that women exhibit when experiencing a heart attack are different from what a men might experience, and are important to be aware of.   Women may experience chest Pain, Pain in Arms, Neck or Jaw, stomach pain or discomfort, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, light-headedness or fatigue. I love this short by Elizabeth Banks that so perfectly captures the mom mentality when it comes to her life.

The Go Red campaign intends to spread the message that women, who are so often busy taking care of everybody else, need to take care of themselves first, and remind other women they love in their lives, mothers, sisters, and girlfriends, to do the same. For more heart healthy tips on prevention go to the American Heart Association website. After all, in the month of February it’s all about the heart.

StyleWeek Northeast Does Red On The Runway To Benefit The American Heart Association

StyleWeek Northeast Does Red On The Runway To Benefit The American Heart Association

Last Night, was the second night of StyleWeek Northeast and the Red On The Runway StyleWeek fashion show challenge featured first responders, survivors, caregivers, and advocates of Heart Disease strutting down the runway to benefit The American Heart Association.  Heart disease is the number 1 killer of both men and women in America, and the American Heart Association is working hard to raise awareness, and promote preventative healthy lifestyle changes to help curb that statistic.  Survivors, first responders, caregivers and advocates working as models were paired with designers to walk the runway in one of a kind designs to help raise money and awareness, and to kick off Heart Month in February.

The winning design by Kara Wickman

The show was set up as a design challenge and a panel of judges including John Smith the RISD museum director, Christina Robbio of Redken, Jenna Pelletier from the Providence journal, Ashley Erling of The Rhode Show, Jayne Avery from Massachusetts College of Art, Jim Hannon from the School of Fashion Design in Boston, Rachel Russell of Lola Boutique, and stylist Jill Marinelli  selected the winning design by Kara Wickman.

With Congressman David Cicilline

It was great fun to see some of my husbands’ friends and colleagues strutting their stuff on the runway like Pediatric Cardiologist Sara Ford and Cardiologist Michael Gilson.  Other models included Jill Andy, and Nurse Lisa Connelly.  A few friends from our town who took to the catwalk were first responder Fire Fighter Mike Mernick and  Tara Wood a heart attack survivor. Tara’s story highlights the need to break down stereotypes about who is at risk of heart disease. She was 44, slim, low cholesterol and blood pressure with healthy fitness, and eating habits, with no family history, yet it happened to her.   Martin Ortiz walked the walk, he is not only a survivor, but also the father of StyleWeek Northeast founder Rosanna Ortiz Sinel.  Also modeling were Paul Brooks, survivor, caregiver and AHA board member, and Mary Velardo who lost her husband to a heart attack in 2009 (pictured above in the winning dress). Model Louise Dinsmore lost her three year old daughter to a congenital heart defect , and went on to found  the Gabrielle Dinsmore Heart & HopeFund , and Gabrielle’s Heart camp to provide a fun, safe summer camp experience to children with heart disease, and honor Gabrielle’s memory.

The StyleWeek Northeast Red on the Runway show was a great girls night out.  We had fun shopping at the accessory showcase, ogling fun designs like the Haute Tags sold by fellow blogger Becky DiStefano, and fabulous handbags by designer Kent Stetson, taking in the fashion show, and socializing during the cocktail hour. StyleWeek Northeast runs through Saturday at the Biltmore in Providence so, check out the schedule, because there are five more fabulous, fashionable fun-filled nights ahead!

With Miss Rhode Island (I know it’s like we’re quadruplets!)

Kent Stetson handbags

Haute Tags