Heart disease affects over 1.4 million Canadians and is the leading cause of death, caused by certain health behaviours. These include poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and exposure to cigarette smoke, the roots of which begin in childhood. KIDS at heART aims to combat obesity and the increasing rates of childhood type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In its inaugural year, SANSAR's KIDS at heART program made news coverage!
TORONTO- Kids at HeART is an educational program that teaches students in grade six about making healthy life choices.
Research from McMaster University suggests South Asians may face an increase risk of heart disease and diabetes and Kids at HeART hopes to tell South Asian children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
“We’ve learned that your ethnic origin actually plays a very important role in determining what diseases you might develop or actually die from,” said Dr. Milan Gupta, founder of SANSAR (South Asian Network Supporting Awareness and Research). “What we’ve learnt is that South Asians, people originating from the Indian subcontinent, are at perhaps the highest risk of any ethnic group in Canada for developing diabetes and heart disease.”
A program was approved and implemented by the Peel Board of Education, working together with SANSAR, to bring this important message of diabetes and heart disease prevention to middle school students.
“It’s something that they’re able to see, that the choices they’re making now have an impact later,” said Angela Bijl, a Kids at HeART educator.
At Huttonville Public School in Brampton, student attend a 40-minute interactive educational session on cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The program helps students to better understand the importance of prevention while outlining risk reduction strategies for a healthier way of life at school and at home.
“I’m going to block out lots of fast food places,” said Imran Nedaee, a Grade 6 student at Huttonville Public School. “That is one of the causes of high cholesterol and that is a risk factor for heart disease.”
“Through healthy living, ideally right from birth, we can probably reduce the burden of heart disease and diabetes by at least fifty to sixty percent,” said Dr. Gupta.