Monclova Primary Aims High For Kids Heart Challenge

Monclova Primary fourth-graders in Lisa Dick’s class are excited about the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge, a three-week lesson on heart health and raising funds for research. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Monclova Primary families are serious about healthy hearts.

In 14 years, the school’s team has raised over $187,000 to help the American Heart Association (AHA) fund research on heart disease and stroke. This year, the 550 K-4 students are aiming to raise a record $19,000.

On Valentine’s Day, the school launched a three-week Kids Heart Challenge and within the first week raised over $8,000 – as well as awareness of just what it takes to keep hearts healthy.

“We talk about how to take care of our heart so we can live a long life,” said physical education teacher Mike Black, who makes daily announcements about making wise choices such as choosing water over sugar-filled drinks and avoiding vaping and tobacco.

He’s also encouraging students to ramp up their physical activities outside of gym class, since the AHA recommends 60 minutes of exercise each day for a healthy heart. With just one gym class a week, students need to find an activity to get passionate about, he said.

Inside the Monclova Primary School gym are banners for the last 14 years of participation in the annual challenge, as well as a table lined with prizes that students can earn for fundraising. 

“It’s not just about the prizes, though. It’s also about empathy – about how we need to look after other people,” he said. 

Fourth-grader Brock Hundley explained.

“Empathy means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes,” he said.

For some students, heart disease hits close to home – perhaps a grandparent or parent has experienced a heart-related issue, Black said. That’s why some families choose to donate several hundred dollars.

Last year, Monclova Primary raised over $17,000 and came in at No. 2 in the Northwest Ohio area, which includes 15 counties, said Tracy Shepherd, youth market director for 18 counties in Ohio. Doing so well also funnels some funds back to the Monclova Primary physical education program. Over the years, AHA funds have been used to buy hockey sticks, sponge blocks, spikeball equipment and even the climbing wall.

“It injects new activities and games into our classes,” Black said.

To donate to the cause, visit and search for Monclova Primary or Mike Black.

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