DALLAS, September 18, 2020 —The American Heart Association and the American Dance Movement encourage students, parents and educators to dance their way to better physical and emotional health this National Dance Day, September 19. Whether six feet apart or virtually, dance offers a cardio-packed activity to stay physically active and connected with others.
With a common interest in influencing positive health outcomes in youth, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, and the American Dance Movement, which is on a mission to build healthy communities through dance, have come together to elevate dance in physical education through the American Heart ChallengeTM, an in-school physical activity program for middle and high schools and Kids Heart Challenge™, for elementary schools.
“Given the current pandemic, it is important that kids and their families stay physically active while being socially distant,” said producer Nigel Lythgoe, American Heart Association national volunteer and co-founder of the American Dance Movement. “Dance can easily be done virtually and offers many benefits including connecting the mind and body, spreading joy and promoting heart health and well-being during this uncertain time.”
Three new, celebrity-led, instructional dance videos will be unveiled by the American Heart Challenge for National Dance Day on September 19 on the Association’s YouTube channel. The videos are packed with cardio-pumping dance steps to help students move their way to heart health through step-by-step dance instruction. Choreographed to “Daisies” by Katy Perry and available in beginner, intermediate and advanced difficulty formats, the videos are led by So You Think You Can Dance™ season 16 winner, Baily Munoz, and season 4 participant, Comfort Fedoke, and World of Dance™ season 4 winners, MDC 3- Diego Pasillas, Madison Smith and Emma Mather.
Through the American Heart Challenge and Kids Heart Challenge, participating schools receive specially designed content, created to be integrated into remote, hybrid and socially distant lesson plans, using dance as one way to motivate students to make healthier life choices.
“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 the classroom,” said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., MPH, the American Heart Association's chief medical officer for prevention. “Healthy eating and regular physical activity are always key to supporting kids’ health and their future health, and it’s especially critical amid COVID-19.”
Kids Heart Challenge offers physical activations to get elementary students’ hearts pumping such as hoops or jumping rope paired with digital missions to learn life-saving skills like Hands-Only CPR™. The American Heart Challenge is a service-learning program for middle and high school students. The program helps boost heart health and self-esteem, while reducing stress and anxiety through activities such as dance and obstacle courses. Both curriculums help prepare kids for success by supporting physical and emotional well-being, while offering new learning resources and physical activities to meet the needs of today’s youth and educators.
“After many months of social distancing and faced with an untraditional school year, it is important to find fun ways to incorporate physical activity into the new normal,” said Adam Shankman, American Heart Association national volunteer and co-founder of the American Dance Movement. “Dance is a great form of aerobic activity that many kids love because it provides a creative outlet through movement.”
To learn more about other school programs, or to make a donation to the American Heart Association, please visit www.heart.org/kids.
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, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For Media Inquiries: 214-706-1173
Linzy Cotaya: 504-872-3446; Linzy.Cotaya@heart.org
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)