From the Heart and Stroke Foundation

Our children: at the heart of Canada's futureGetting kids engaged in healthy eating and physical activity now can help them stay healthy today and throughout their lives – reducing their risk of heart disease or stroke as an adult. More than ever before, children are at risk for obesity and its related health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It is estimated that 26% of children between the ages of 2 and 17 are overweight or obese. “Some research suggests that the current generation of children may be the first whose life expectancy might be lower than their parents due to obesity and its effects,” says Stephen Samis, Director of Health Policy for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. “That's why the Heart and Stroke Foundation is working in every province to provide more opportunities for kids to get physical activity and healthy food.” By working closely with schools and the provincial and federal governments, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is working to change the lifestyle habits that are setting children up for obesity, high blood pressure or narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), the number one cause of stroke and a major cause of heart attacks.

JUMPing across Canada
The Heart and Stroke Foundation is working in every province to help promote healthy living in kids with programs such as Jump Rope for HeartTM and Hoops for HeartTM. Currently, children in 4,000 schools across the country get active with these programs. Go to and for more information and games and activities, skipping lessons and downloadable colouring pages.

Changing the state of the Canadian diet
The Foundation has helped to make Canadians aware of the high levels of unhealthy salt and fats such as saturated and trans fats, contained in processed, fast and snack foods. That's why it launched Health Check™, the Foundation's food information program. The Health Check symbol can be found on more than 1,000 foods, including grain products, vegetables and fruit, milk products, as well as meat and alternatives. The symbol on the package is your assurance that the product's nutrition information has been reviewed by the Foundation's dietitians to meet specific nutrient criteria based on the 2007 Canada's Food Guide.

The Foundation has also been instrumental in the fight to rid unhealthy trans fats from our food supply because they increase the risk of heart disease and stroke even more than saturated fats. Read about our participation in the Trans Fat Task Force, which made recommendations for nation-wide control of processed trans fats.

Making health elementary in Newfoundland and Labrador schools
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Foundation is working to making schools a healthier place for elementary students by supporting an Active Schools Program spearheaded by Dr. Carmel Casey. To date, 54 elementary schools under the Central School District participate in the program.

Helping teens kick the habit in PEI
In 2004, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of PEI hosted a Quit and Win-Don't Start and Win Campaign – a smoking cessation competition. Of the 137, 900 Islanders, approximately 3,000 people aged 15+, including 10% of the island's teen smokers, entered the contest and agreed to stop smoking for the month of May. Overall, 70% of participants succeeded in their goal and 30% were still smoke-free three months later. Their major partners were Health Canada and the PEI Tobacco Reduction Alliance. PEI continues to encourage kids to breathe easy by discouraging smoking and encouraging physical activity.

Getting a running start in New Brunswick
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of New Brunswick is implementing the creation of an educational program called A running start to a healthy heart, a program for childcare workers in kindergartens, nurseries and daycares to assist them in providing healthy snacks and lunches to New Brunswick children.

On the road to a healthier schools in Quebec
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Quebec is committed to changing the way that schools view food. To encourage healthier eating at school, and provide take-home messages to share with parents, the Foundation created a toolkit called On the Road to a Happy Heart. To view this toolkit and learn more about what HSFQ is doing for your kids visit, On the road to a happy heart or En Route, en coeur

Addressing healthy weights in Ontario
By working closely with communities on the important issue of physical activity for school-aged children, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario is helping to promote healthy weights in kids. The Foundation has established the Community Advocacy Fund, which offers grants to community and school groups that are seeking support for their advocacy efforts. In the fall of 2007, the Foundation also held community workshops for residents to learn how to advocate for improvements in physical activity and eating opportunities for children.

The Foundation is also advocating to the provincial government to establish a second required physical education credit in high school, to create a dedicated fund to help communities across Ontario design, build and maintain recreation facilities as well as to encourage renewed government commitment to help maximize public use of Ontario's 64,000 kilometres of trails.

Getting Ag into Manitoba classrooms
Agriculture is a big part of life for people living in the province. That's why the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba participates in a school program called Ag in the Classroom. The program helps teach children about how locally produced foods fit into Canada's Food Guide. The event also includes an interactive display for Grade 4 and 5 students on eating healthy, being active and being smoke-free to help them take care of their hearts. This program reached approximately 1,100 students in Winnipeg and 400 kids in Brandon last year.

Cooking up healthy food in Saskatchewan schools
Because few schools have formal nutrition policies in the province, the Heart and stroke Foundation of Saskatchewan has created a Healthy Foods in School Toolkit to suggest ways for elementary and high schools to become more involved in promoting healthy eating. Learn more about this program or download the toolkit by visiting the HSFSK web site. (Available in English only)

Making CPR training a priority for Alberta teens
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta has worked closely with the Alberta government to create legislation requiring all Grade 10 students in Alberta to learn the life-saving basics of CPR. This started two years ago with a pilot program targeting 100 schools with more than 75,000 students in the Edmonton area. Now, an estimated 150,000 Alberta students learn CPR every year. The next step, says Tony Connelly, the HSFA Manager of Resuscitation Education, is to place Automated External Defibrillators (devices that can restart a heart after a cardiac arrest) into all Alberta schools and to ensure staff and students have the training on how to use these devices.

In addition, 176 schools in Alberta have also received Weight of the World DVDs and facilitator kits to teach kids about how obesity affects health around the world.

Getting kids pumped in B.C. Yukon, NWT and Nunavut schools
In British Columbia, the Heart and Stroke Foundation worked closely with the provincial government to develop a pilot program testing a new healthy eating and physical activity model. The project, called Action Schools! BC, included 30 elementary schools. The project was such a success that the government has moved forward with its funding. “It makes sense that if you're going to be concerned with children, you turn to schools,” Samis says. “We think that schools should be a place of nutritional wellness. Priority should be given to healthy foods. We also think school is an excellent place for kids to be active and to enjoy that activity.”

As well, students in B.C. are getting “pumped for life” after participating in physical activity and receiving PUMPED, a magazine produced by HSFBC. Targeted to nine and 10-year-olds, the magazine features puzzles, new recipes to try at home, and educational stories and cartoons. Grade 4 students in Alberta, NWT & Nunavut also received the magazine

For more information to keep kids heart healthy, go to our Kid/Teen Zone

Last reviewed December 2007.

Heart and Stroke Foundation


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© - 2008. Reproduced with permission of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada