ATLANTA, September 15, 2023 — The American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, recognized Chris Ragsdale, Cobb County superintendent as the Superintendent 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. The ceremony, held virtually on September 12, was joined by program participants from coast to coast and celebrated students, educators and leading schools for their work in advancing the association’s lifesaving work.
“We are incredibly proud of Chris Ragsdale and all of his work in supporting whole body health for all,” said Scott Webb, board chairman of the American Heart Association, metro Atlanta and vice president, account services, Pointnext Technology Services at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Schools play a vital role in building a foundation of healthy living for future generations and we are thrilled to see our lifesaving mission touch the lives of students, schools and educators right here in metro Atlanta.”
The Superintendent of the Year award is given each year to a superintendent who has been instrumental in growing the Kids Heart Challenge, American Heart Challenge and/or District Heart Challenge program(s) in their district.
Ragsdale was nominated by local American Heart Association staff for the national award. He is fully invested into the Association’s mission and sets the expectations for his schools and leaders to participate in Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge. He leads by example and encourages all students in Cobb County to live a heart healthy lifestyle.
Cobb County Schools has been crowned the top school district in the nation for dollars raised for heart health in the 2021-2022 and the 2022-2023 school year under Ragsdale’s leadership. In addition, Cobb County Schools has set a new record for the most dollars raised in one school year by a single district. For the 2022-2023 school year, Cobb County schools raised $770,000, making American Heart Association history.
“It goes without saying how deeply humbled I am to receive this award. However, it cannot go without saying that this award would not be possible without the remarkable efforts of our incredible team of students, teachers, staff members, and parents,” said Ragsdale.
“They came together in an amazing way to support the work of an organization that is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of so many throughout our communities, our states, and our nation. Thank you on behalf of the entire Cobb County School District for this recognition, we are all honored to be a small part of the amazing work that the American Heart Association is doing.”
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 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 leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For Media Inquiries:
Erin Thomas; Erin.Thomas@heart.org
Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)