DALLAS, January 17, 2019 — Active kids learn better. When kids are active, they focus more, think more clearly, react to stress more calmly and perform and behave better in class. The US Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans show that kids ages 6 to 17 years who are physically active improve cognitive function and have heathier weight, lower cardiovascular risk and fewer symptoms of depression[1].

“The American Heart Association has always supported increased physical activity in children and adolescents because physical activity is an important part of a heart healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Stephen Daniels, professor and chair of the department of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Physical activity has a number of benefits including prevention of obesity, diabetes and hypertension. It also has a beneficial effect on brain health and is associated with improved school performance. It is important for children to find physical activity that they enjoy doing and dance is a great form of aerobic activity that many kids love.”

With a common interest in influencing those positive health outcomes, the American Heart Association and the American Dance Movement initiated a national collaboration. Through the Association’s Kids Heart ChallengeTM, students across the nation will receive specially-designed content, created to be  integrated into existing classroom lesson plans, using dance as one way to motivate students to make healthier life choices.

“The Kids Heart Challenge is designed to address what matters most to educators and parents – preparing kids for success by supporting their physical and emotional well-being,” said Tanya Edwards, the Association’s executive vice president of community health and development. “Because dance is universally fun and engaging, it is an excellent way to get students moving toward a heart-healthy life. We are especially excited to work with Nigel Lythgoe and Adam Shankman, both respected and recognized names in the dance world, and their foundation, to create a unique and valuable experience for students and teachers alike.”

Participants are led by celebrity dancers Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Allison Holker, sisters Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler, Bailey Sok and Tahani Anderson via three videos produced by the two organizations for schools participating in the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge. The videos are packed with cardio-pumping dance steps to help students move their way to heart health through step-by-step dance routines.

In addition, the American Heart Association and American Dance Movement will co-host special dance celebrations for the three schools that raise the most funds through the Kids Heart Challenge. These celebrations will also feature special dance celebrity guests.

“It takes two to tango! The collaboration between the American Dance Movement and the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge underscores the health impact of dancing,” said producer Nigel Lythgoe, American Heart Association national volunteer and co-founder of the American Dance Movement. “As a heart attack survivor myself, I know just how important heart health is. It is my sincere hope that the students, teachers and parents we reach through the Kids Heart Challenge will be equally as inspired to dance their way to a healthier heart.”

The Kids Heart Challenge encourages heart-healthy behavior as students pledge to be more physically active, drink more water and do a good deed. For teachers, the Kids Heart Challenge offers four activations to get students’ hearts pumping: jump rope, basketball, dance and an obstacle course-style event. The program is celebrating the Association’s 40th year working in schools with exciting new content that meets the changing needs of today’s youth and educators and helps prepare kids for success through physical and emotional well-being, all while fundraising for the American Heart Association.

More information about Kids Heart Challenge is available online at heart.org/kidsheartchallenge. Educators and Kids Heart Challenge coordinators may also join the new Kids Heart Challenge Facebook group to share stories, best practices and event successes. To learn more about other school programs, or to make a donation to the American Heart Association, please visit www.heart.org.


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

For Media Inquiries: 214-706-1173

Kelsey Walters: 214-706-4851; Kelsey.Walters@heart.org  

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

heart.org and strokeassociation.org


[1] US Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, page 14. Available for download here: https://health.gov/paguidelines/default.aspx