SEATTLE, August 15, 2023— A fifth-grader at Naval Avenue Elementary has been selected by the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, to serve as a volunteer national Youth Heart Ambassador for the 2023-2024 school year. Sydney Callands, 10, will work closely with the American Heart Association’s in-school programs, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™ to actively and passionately champion other children to establish healthy habits to better mental and physical well-being. 

The American Heart Association accepted nominations from young people who have been affected by heart disease or stroke either through a personal diagnosis, diagnosis of a loved one, or has made a personal lifestyle change, to serve in the Youth Heart Ambassador role. 

Before her fourth birthday, Callands experienced an unexplained stroke and was diagnosed with atrial septal defect. Her excellent team of doctors and nurses provided physical therapy to help her walk and talk again. 

“When they told us Sydney had experienced a stroke, I had no idea someone could have a stroke at that age,” shared Tylandra Callands, Sydney’s mom. “Sydney has worked incredibly hard on her recovery and we couldn’t be more proud of that effort and her desire to share her story through the Kids Heart Challenge to help other young stroke survivors know they are not alone.” 

The Youth Heart Ambassadors serve a one-year commitment as a volunteer of the American Heart Association assisting the organization to be a relentless force for healthier lives for all. The position gives youth a voice to encourage, advocate and underscore the need for to raise critical funding as they share the impact cardiovascular disease has had on their life. 

“Sydney’s story is so inspiring and it’s exciting to see one of our local youth share their voice and experience to help others live heart healthy,” said Shahriar Heidary, M.D., president of the board for the American Heart Association, Puget Sound and cardiologist at Sea Mar Community Health Centers. 

Rooted in physical activity, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™ are service-learning programs that teach students how to improve their overall health while doing good for the health of others. Through interactive curriculums and various online challenges, participating students get active and have fun while raising funds and awareness for congenital heart defects, nutrition security, CPR training, mental well-being and more. These collective efforts help further the American Heart Association’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. 

Schools interested in participating in either Kids Heart Challenge™ or American Heart Challenge™ receive expanded curriculum resources for both classrooms and in-home learning environments can register now for next school year. To learn more about our school programs please visit More information can be found online,




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.orgFacebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   


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Valerie Koch,

Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721) and