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Raising $11,326 for Kids Heart Challenge and Learning About Healthy Hearts

two studentsTwo kindergarten students named Charlotte were the largest contributors to the Smallwood Drive Elementary School’s American Heart Association Kids Heart Challenge fundraiser. They each raised substantial money with help from their friends and family; Charlotte S. raised $1,494 and Charlotte T. raised $2,208.

Pictured is Mr. Cozier with the students and Tara Franklin, Youth Market Director of the American Heart Association.

Together with the rest of the building, staff and students raised $11,326 to help children with heart disease.

The Kids Heart Challenge is a community service learning project where students learn the importance of taking care of their own hearts and helping others while earning fun surprises. During February, students learned different ways to keep their hearts active, how a heart works and raised money to help kids with special hearts. 

“Some of the money raised will come back to school and support the physical education and wellness program,” said Jennifer Higgins, Wellness and Physical Education Teacher at Smallwood Drive. “The American Heart Association added a new twist this year to the challenge. Each school was given a Principal's Challenge which if successful would give a school $500 in new wellness equipment from US Games. Principal Crozier had to make a choice between being kind or active. To piggyback on our Social Emotional Learning initiatives, he chose to implement Principal Crozier's Kindness Challenge.”

Starting on Feb. 7, staff and students were asked to document if someone was kind to you. Students could draw a picture or write how they felt when someone was kind to them. The school had to generate 500 acts of kindness in order to win the $500 grant. They generated 600 responses which were hung in the front foyer and hallways.

poster poster with drawing“Kindness has always been a priority and focus here at Smallwood,” said Principal Rich Crozier. “We emphasize the importance of treating each other well and with kindness. I strongly believe if there is anything that we can do as a community here at Smallwood, it’s to be kind with one another. I was excited to issue this challenge and see the boys and girls go above and beyond in treating each other the right way.”

Mrs. Higgins established a partnership with the American Heart Association years ago. A key component is a curriculum integration where students in first- and second-grade learn  about the heart in wellness class as part of the muscles of the human body unit. Third- to fifth-graders participate in a health related fitness unit where cardiovascular endurance is a key focus. Students learn all about the heart, how it works and how to keep it healthy. 

A culminating activity for students in grades 4 and 5 this year is a visit from Heart Smart medical students from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine. This program aims to teach children about how to develop a healthy lifestyle and the consequences of obesity. The medical students believe that it is important to teach children at a young age what they can do for their health and how they can affect their future by making a few simple choices each day to live a “Heart Smart” life. 

On their visit to Smallwood Drive, the medical students set up four stations to show the various aspects of the heart and what leads to a healthy heart. Students were able to see the difference between a healthy and unhealthy human heart. The program is taught this year by Emily Smith, a former Smallwood and 2014 Amherst High School graduate, Emily Smith. She graduated from Hobart and William Smith in 2018 and will graduate from the Jacobs School of Medicine in 2024.

students with medical student  students with med student students look at xrays