Marshalltown teachers receive American Heart Association praise

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS – Jamie Stensland of the American Heart Association praises Marshalltown Schools teachers for their participation in the organization’s programming, which promotes physical and socio-emotional health in kids.

The American Heart Association recently launched its Kids Heart Challenge program, and one official from the non-profit had good things to say about Marshalltown Schools Monday.

American Heart Association Youth Market Director Jamie Stensland said she has enjoyed working with elementary- and intermediate school teachers on keeping kids healthy in the district.

“Not only are we addressing physical health, but we’re also addressing the socio-emotional piece, too,” she said. “We’re talking to kids about being kind, we’re talking to them about doing good deeds and we’re mostly talking to them still about taking care of their hearts.”

Stensland said such discussions are extra important with young people.

“We know that this generation of kids is going to live five years less than we are – and that’s pretty scary – with the statistics that we’re seeing,” she said. “It’s important that we are reinforcing the messages that your teachers are communicating on a daily basis.”

Stensland said she mostly works with physical education teachers at the district’s six elementary buildings and Lenihan Intermediate School. She said one Rogers Elementary P.E. teacher, Nicole Boliver, received an American Heart Association grant for $2,000 to implement a new project aimed at helping kids be healthy.

Stensland said she was unable to reach Boliver in time for Monday’s school board meeting and therefore did not have details about the program to be funded by the grant.

In the future, Stensland said she wants to expand association programming beyond the current age groups being served. Specifically, she said there is a need to bring programming to the middle- and high school levels “where we are starting to address vaping and bullying with students.”

Stensland said principals and teachers are asking for help addressing such issues among students.

According to an American Heart Association Kids Heart Challenge fact sheet, the program involves different types of physical activity like jumping rope, dancing and “Warrior obstacle courses,” as well as academic lesson plans to address students not only in terms of physical health but also mental and emotional health.

“We’re here to be a resource for you, we’re here to help your students and help your district to be a success,” Stensland said.

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Contact Adam Sodders at

641-753-6611 or

asodders@timesrepublican.com