SALEM, August 25, 2022 — 18 schools in the Salem-Keizer School District will start the school year off planning for Kids Heart Challenge™ a program designed to support student long-term mental and physical health while raising funds to support the mission of the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all.

The American Heart Association’s school-based program, 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 missions to learn life-saving skills like Hands-Only CPR™ and how to spot a stroke. The program has more than 40 years of proven success rooted in scientific research which shows that kids who are regularly active feel better, improve their mental health, build self-esteem, and decrease and prevent conditions such as anxiety and depression.

“The Kids Heart Challenge benefits our students in a variety of ways,” says Olga Cobb, Salem-Keizer Public Schools Assistant Superintendent. “First and foremost, it builds a foundation for better health by teaching students how to create healthy habits at school and at home, contributing to academic success and lifelong health. The program also empowers students to make a difference in our community.”

Through Kids Heart Challenge, students have an opportunity to learn Hands-Only CPR with their family, and raise lifesaving donations to support wellness beyond themselves. Funds raised help to improve cardiovascular health for all by making research funding possible, supporting local advocacy efforts, improving quality of care, and expanding community education efforts. In Oregon and Southwest Washington, the American Heart Association is currently focused on improving nutrition security.

“We are honored to be part of Kids Heart Challenge and partner with such a vital community organization like the American Heart Association,” says Andy Kronser, Cummings Elementary Principal. “Through our participation in this program, our students learn to develop healthy lifestyle choices to maintain long-term health. We are grateful for our continued partnership and appreciate their support.”

Cummings Elementary School participated in Kids Heart Challenge during the 21-22 school year and was recently awarded a $2,500 grant from the American Heart Association. The funds will be used to create a “Wellness Center” at their school, helping to support the physical, emotional, and behavioral wellbeing of their students. This annual grant opportunity is available to all schools completing the Kids Heart Challenge program to expand their schools’ wellness offerings with additions such as physical activity equipment, water bottle filling stations and educator training opportunities on their campuses.

The educational curriculum and physical activities included in the Kids Heart Challenge program help meet the needs of today’s youth and educators. The program, a successful part of thousands of schools from coast-to-coast, targets improving whole-body wellness which is vital to drive immediate and long-term health in children. With deep roots in physical activity, the program has expanded over the years to additionally support student mental health through social emotional learning.

“In order to build a community where everyone has the chance to live a long and healthy life, we need all hands-on deck,” says Dr. Nandita Gupta, AHA Board President for Oregon and Southwest Washington. “That includes our schools and our students.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans[1] only 20% of kids get enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. In addition to improved physical health, the benefits of physical activity for children include better grades, school attendance and classroom behavior.

To learn more about the Kids Heart Challenge or to enroll your school to participate, visit




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.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.  


For Media Inquiries: 503-820-5309,

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


[1] Department of Health and Human Services, 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines, page 14. Available for download here: