“Head Start” on heart health


Health program held for preschoolers

MEHOOPANY TOWNSHIP, WYOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Heredity is sometimes to blame for heart disease but many times it results from lifestyle choices.

It’s why learning to take care of your heart is a lesson better learned when you’re young. That’s the thinking behind a program for some local preschool kids. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller got a look Thursday to see how it works.

“Can you hear it? What’s it sound like?,” asked Eva Kennedy, LPN. A girl said, “Umm, thump.” It’s the first time many of the 3-to-5-year-olds who attend Luzerne County Head Start Mehoopany Center have ever heard their heart beating through a stethoscope.

Ms. Kennedy explained, “And the heart is the strongest muscle in your body and it helps keep everything going.”

This crash course on all things cardiovascular might seem too big for such young children but those behind the program disagree.

Ms. Kennedy said, “We figure we’d teach them now, you know. Some things will stick.”

Classroom teacher Dana Schneider added, “We’re setting the foundation for the rest of their life.”

The CDC says the percentage of children affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s contributing to heart disease. This preschool lesson may help prevent these kids from that fate.

4-year-old Mason Steele seemed really interested in learning about the heart. He had a superhero shirt featuring Batman. When asked if he thinks Batman has a strong heart, Mason said “Yeah” and indicated it’s needed for the size of the Caped Crusader.

Through lessons like this, Mason’s teacher plans to help keep their hearts strong, too.

“We jump up and down. Even dancing. That’s putting it in there because they’re moving and grooving and getting that action during the day,” said Ms. Schneider.

Regional nurse Eva Kennedy presents her lesson on heart health five times a year with Luzerne County Head Start.

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