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Teacher: Sharon Rumfola who teaches at Nations Ford Elementary in Charlotte, NC. Sharon Rumfola can be contacted at srumfola@crowinds.net.

Name of Best Practice: Healthy Heart Commitment Card

Materials Needed: A commitment card for each child and staff member, a heart charm and chain for each child and staff member, red bulletin board paper used to make a large heart for each PE class, and food for the healthy heart party: snack mix (peanuts, honeynut cheerios and raisins), fruit cups, bananas, water and fruit juices, plates, napkins and cups, written information or statistics on overweight children and adults in the U.S. Also it is helpful to have facts on heart disease and stroke. I received my information from the newsletter the American Heart Association sends me.

Healthy Heart Commitment Card

I introduced this idea to the staff in my school at a staff meeting at the beginning of the month of February. To get everyone's attention I read statistics and other information about heart disease, stroke and obesity from a newsletter from the American Heart Association. Next, I informed them that February was Heart Month and asked them if they would agree to give up one food or drink that was unhealthy for their heart for the month of February. I asked them to give up something that would not be easy for them. For example: sodas - if the person really enjoyed them and had them pretty regularly. I informed them they would win a heart charm and a healthy heart party at the end of the month if they kept their commitment. Next, I handed out a commitment card to each staff member.

I _____________________ make a commitment to giving up one food or drink for the month of February that is not healthy for my heart.

Signed __________________ Date ______________

I kept the cards and posted them on big hearts that I had cut out from the bulletin board paper. I displayed these on the walls of the teachers lounge for the party. I had the party one morning before school in the lounge. I also gave everyone who kept their commitment a plastic heart charm that I purchased from Michael's craft store. Some of out staff members have a chain for their name tag so I told them to put their heart on that chain. I had ordered 5 inch chains from a company called Fitness Finders. I gave a chain to those staff members who did not have one. I had about 90% participation from the staff members in February. Each month I continued this program. I used the same card but I changed the month name. Teachers and staff who kept their commitment each month received another heart charm to add to their chain.

For students:

I introduced this commitment to the students in grades 1-5 for the 2 weeks after Valentine's Day. I explained the program in simple terms. With each class, I went over examples of foods that are healthy and not so healthy. Next, I told them they would win a heart charm if they kept their 2 week commitment at school. I handed out commitment cards and students sat with their PE buddy when they filled out their own card. Each student had to write down a food or drink they partook of often that they would be willing to give up for 2 weeks. Students had to share this information with their PE buddy. Students were informed that they needed to sit with their PE buddy at lunch so they could monitor what the other eats in order to help each other stick to their commitment. I told students to help their buddy at snack times during the day. If their buddy was about to eat something they were supposed to give up they were to gently remind them of their commitment. I informed students to try to keep their commitment at home. At the end of the month, I took time out of each PE class to find out who kept their commitment. I put a check on their commitment card that was displayed on their class heart on the wall. (At the end of the month I took the hearts off the wall by each teacher's classroom and posted them around the gym on the walls). Students who did not keep their commitment were given an additional week to try to keep it. At the beginning of the month I displayed all the heart commitment cards on large hearts outside of each classroom teacher's door as reminders to the students. I gave a chain and a heart to each child who kept his commitment. The students at out school wear name tags that are laminated with a hard plastic and attach to the students clothing with a metal clip. I ran the chain through the hole on the clip. The heart charm dangled from the chain on the name tag.

NOTE: Sometimes we don't realize the impact we have on children. One 3rd grade boy wrote down on his commitment card that he was going to give up "stealing." He totally missed the real idea of the commitment but something even more important came out of the deal. I didn't change his card and I asked him at the end of the month if he had given up stealing. His answer was yes and he won his heart.

Variations:

You could have parents participate with their children and hold them accountable.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

I decided to have students participate in this commitment at school because I couldn't expect them to be honest about what they were eating at home. Having them use a PE buddy really helped hold them accountable.

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Posted on PEC: 8/20/2002 and has received 66 votes.

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