Teachers Make Worcester "Heart Healthy City"

American Heart Association heart logo

The Worcester Public School has received the "Heart of Gold" Award. This award is given to Community Leaders who are active in the community as advocates and have made exceptional contributions through service and/or commitment to the American Heart Association’s mission to create a culture of health in the community at large.

This team of John Monfredo, Debra McGovern, and Carol Manning along with the entire Health Education, Nursing and Physical Education department were instrumental in getting the prestigious award. Because of their work, a WPS policy was passed requiring WPS students to receive hands-only CPR/AED training as part of their required curriculum. Members of this team made the CPR/AED policy a priority by working with the American Heart Association to gather additional community support (e.g., fellow school committee members, Worcester Health Dept., hospitals, etc.). Some team members also led the way to gather the necessary resources to purchase CPR/AED training kits/mannequins, raising more than enough money through grants and community donations to cover the cost of the program. The team also took it a step further, asking that the policy state that students start receiving hands-only CPR/AED training in grade 7 and will also include the teaching of the Heimlich maneuver. The group of nurses and PE teachers are also helping to raise money by being leaders in "Heart Walk" in May.

Every Worcester Public Schools Physical Education Teacher of middle and high school students is trained in Hands Only CPR/AED and is teaching it to each of their students, every year. Every high school Health educator is a fully CPR/AED and first aid certified trainer who will, in their Health Education class, certify any student in the full CPR/AED and First Aid protocol for any student needing this special certification for employment.

Every student in Worcester, through their Health Education or Physical Education Class has the opportunity to receive 6 years of CPR/AED training. Worcester, the second largest city in Massachusetts, will now have thousands of more trained lifesavers in the community each year. This will certainly put Worcester in the lead as the most "Heart Healthy City" in New England.

In addition, our elementary school Physical Education teachers will be trained in "Heimlich Heroes" a program that teaches 2nd and 3rd graders how to do the Heimlich maneuver so that younger students can learn this lifesaving technique and the importance of heart health. Many of these teachers also run a "Jump rope for Heart" fundraiser in their schools.

Keep in mind that heart attack statistics are staggering with over 1.5 million heart attacks occurring in the United States each year with 500,000 deaths occurring. About 50% of deaths occur within one hour of the heart attack if the person is outside a hospital. So perhaps we as a community can do something about it for we all know that CPR is part of the emergency cardiac care system designed to save lives. Training our students may be the most valuable lesson they can learn for students will learn how to save a life of a loved one, a teacher, or friend by performing the simple steps of CPR and knowing what to do in this emergency. Needless to say it can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Hopefully, this project will turn Worcester into a Heart Safe City and thanks to the many donors and the work of the Worcester Public Schools we will do it!