CHEYENNE, Wyo., Sept. 13, 2023 — The American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, recognized Andrea Escobedo, nurse at Freedom Elementary School, as the Specialist/Nurse of the Year recipient for the Association’s in-school programs, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™.
The national award, given annually, was announced during the association’s Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge awards ceremony held virtually on Sept. 12. Participants from coast-to-coast celebrated students, educators and leading schools for their work in advancing the association’s lifesaving work.
The Specialist or Nurse of the Year Award recognizes a specialist or nurse who has been instrumental in growing the Kids Heart Challenge, American Heart Challenge and/or District Heart Challenge program(s) in their school or district.
“Andrea is committed to her students and has a passion for making sure they know the importance of eating right, staying active and treating others with kindness and respect; all elements of the KHC program,” said Sam Gardner, state director for the American Heart Association in Wyoming.
Escobedo orchestrated the Kids Heart Challenge for Freedom Elementary School, located on Warren Air Force Base, during the 2022-23 school year.
Both Escobedo’s son and husband have a congenital heart defect called a Bicuspid Aortic Valve that affects how well blood can flow out of their hearts into their aorta. Her husband has had open-heart surgery, and her son might need surgery, as well.
After being asked to lead the Kids Heart Challenge at Freedom Elementary School in 2022-23, Escobedo excitedly said yes and immediately updated their school KHC page and told her son Braylon’s story. Braylon Escobedo, 12, has been named a local Youth Heart Ambassador by the American Heart Association this year.
Andrea Escobedo said she was inspired to be an RN when her life was saved by an RN, Cathy Teasley.
“I was in a car accident when I was 14, and the dash exploded,” recalls Escobedo. “A piece of the plastic hit my right cheek causing a huge laceration. Luckily, it happened next to our family friend’s home, and she jumped into action to help control the bleeding while also helping the other two girls [who were in the accident].
“Cathy was my angel that night, and after that, I knew I was meant to be a nurse and help others as she did me,” said Escobedo.
“Andrea is always trying to find ways to teach the kids about heart health,” said Freedom Principal Chad Delbridge. “Kids Heart Challenge was a great way for her to do just that. She had a great start last year and we will continue to build on it this upcoming year. She is a hard worker, and we are blessed to have her on our team at Freedom Elementary.”
With a foundation set in physical activity, Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge have expanded beyond the gymnasium to meet the needs of today’s youth and educators as science has proven the strong connection between physical and mental health. Kids Heart Challenge offers a variety of physical activities to get elementary students’ hearts pumping such as dance, basketball or jumping rope paired with digital mission to learn life-saving skills such as Hands-Only CPR™. The American Heart Challenge is a service-learning program for middle and high school students. The program also helps boost heart health and self-esteem, while reducing stress and anxiety through programs featuring yoga, dance, and obstacle courses.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, only 20% of kids get enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. Both the Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge are rooted in proven science, which has shown that kids who are regularly active have a better chance of a healthy adulthood.
To learn more about American Heart Association youth-based programs visit www.heart.org/getstarted.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook or X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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