by Kelly Shilhanek
“We only get one heart!” Ms. Kristin McGee, Concord’s P.E. teacher, reminded students as we sat in a circle in the middle of the gym. “It’s not like you can go to the heart store and buy another one…” Giggles ensue, and students are wiggly and ready to run. “Does your heart stop beating when you go to sleep?” she asks. Most students shake their heads. “It slows down, but your heart never stops beating from the time you are born until the time you die.”
Every time I hear that statement, I’m sobered by the fact that my heart beats, beats, and beats and I never think twice about it. It is incredible to appreciate this powerful organ that keeps our bodies and brains alert and in motion every second of each day. I tell myself to make sure I take care of my heart, because I definitely don’t want to have to go to the heart store!
With heart health in mind, Apple Corps worked in tandem with Ms. McGee to promote a cardiovascular riff on the Valentine’s theme—Healthy Heart Valentine’s Week. Students are encouraged to have fun while building their cardiovascular endurance while walking, jogging, and running around the gym to compete for individual and classroom prizes. Most students ran at least one mile during their P.E. class time, and a few future track stars logged 2 miles in 20 minutes! Cumulatively, the Concord student body ran 550 miles during the course of one week—approximately the distance between Seattle and Mt. Shasta in Northern California. This year, teachers also got the chance to participate in Healthy Heart Valentine’s Week through a staff-wide competition to see who could take the most steps using a pedometer over the course of the week.
Concord students had fun and worked hard. 3rd graders noticeably revved up when Macklemore played on the speakers, kindergarteners zoomed around the gym without stopping to collect their lap-trackers, a 5th grade student encouraged her classmate to keep moving with the call “c’mon, girl power!” and one 1st grade class impressed everyone by accumulating 35 miles in one P.E. period. I didn’t know first graders could run that far and so fast!
Encouraging healthy habits is easier when everyone is having fun, which is a core idea behind Healthy Heart Valentine’s Week. It’s a good reminder for me, too—eating healthy and working out should feel exciting and engaging, not like a chore. So here’s to healthy hearts, healthy habits, and gooooooo Concord!