Participation in sports promotes physical activity, builds self-esteem, improves social skills and motivates children to excel academically. To encourage Massachusetts students to be active and play sports, the American Heart Association and local sponsor, Saint Vincent Hospital, collected more than 180 athletic balls that have been donated to schools in need throughout Central Massachusetts.

“Just like in adults, increased physical activity has been associated with an increased life expectancy and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease among children,” said Dr. Mark Kranis, Director of the Cardiovascular Fellowship Program at Saint Vincent Hospital. “The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. It is never too early to start with good, heart healthy habits.”

This Spring, the American Heart Association and Saint Vincent Hospital visited schools across Central Massachusetts to deliver more than a dozen athletic balls to each school in need, as part of a joint effort to encourage Massachusetts children to get regular exercise. Local schools included:

  • Elm Park Community Elementary School, Worcester
  • Roosevelt Elementary School, Worcester
  • Pakahoag Elementary School, Auburn
  • Swanson Road Intermediate School, Auburn
  • Bryn-Mawr Elementary School, Auburn
  • Auburn Middle School, Auburn
  • Columbus Park Preparatory Elementary School, Worcester

“Physical activity is important for everyone to do, especially children,” said Jeffrey M. Welch, CEO of Saint Vincent Hospital. “The team here at Saint Vincent Hospital is proud to have collected these athletic balls so the children in our community can stay active!”

Each school has been a longtime participant in the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope For Heart and Hoops For Heart programs, both programs are fundraising events that engage elementary and middle school students with jumping rope or playing basketball while empowering them to improve their own health and help other kids with heart-health issues.