School & Community News

Making it fun to learn heart facts
February 8, 2020

February 2020…Two first grade classes at Spring Garden Elementary School in Philadelphia are learning their ABCs and how to keep their hearts healthy.

Their teacher, Madeline Jackmon, is implementing the Healthy NewsWorks Hearty Kids program, a classroom-based program for Philadelphia-area K-2 students that improves health knowledge and literacy through eight lessons about healthy habits, research, writing, and newspaper reporting.

The students in Ms. Jackmon’s class have some special instructions when they say the alphabet: to touch their toes when they say a vowel and to do a jumping jack when they say a consonant. One student said the activity was fun “because we worked our alphabet and our heart.”

Now in its third year, the Hearty Kids program focuses on basic journalism concepts (what is a fact, who is an expert) and heart health information. Students then apply their knowledge on these topics by writing and illustrating a section of their school’s health newspaper, called the Hearty Kids Page.

The Hearty Kids program will reach several other schools in addition to Spring Garden this school year. In Philadelphia, three classes of second graders at William Cramp Elementary and one class at St. Veronica Catholic School are already engaged. An abbreviated three-lesson program is underway at Cole Manor Elementary in East Norriton.

In coming weeks, the program will be offered to students at St. Martin de Porres Catholic School in Philadelphia, Whitehall Elementary in Norristown, and James Logan Elementary in Philadelphia. In all, Hearty Kids is expected to reach about 400 children in 18 classrooms during the 2019-20 school year.

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Since 2003, Healthy NewsWorks has been empowering elementary and middle school students to become researchers, writers, and confident communicators who advance health understanding and literacy through their factual publications and digital media.