NIH News Release
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Thursday, July 15, 1999
Contact: NHLBI Communications Office
(301) 496-4236

"Hearts N' Parks" — An Innovative North Carolina Program To Prevent Heart Disease Launched
Mallard Creek Recreation Center in Charlotte Kicks Off Hearts N' Parks Program

Hearts N' Parks Y2K, an innovative program designed to promote the adoption of heart healthy behaviors among North Carolina children and their families, will be launched at a special media event in Charlotte on Thursday, July 15th, beginning at 11:00 a.m. The launch will demonstrate heart health lessons learned in the Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health Study (CATCH). A follow-up study on CATCH was announced in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine on July 14, 1999.

The Hearts N' Parks launch in Charlotte will highlight a children's day camp where CATCH will be taught, along with a fitness class for seniors, and a USA Tennis class. A special ceremony with invited guests from throughout the State will also be held. Special events will also be held in most of the 11 other North Carolina communities that are participating in Hearts N' Parks.

Hearts N' Parks Y2K, a collaborative effort of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), North Carolina State University, and Southern Connecticut University, is a statewide pilot program to promote the adoption of heart healthy behaviors, including eating right and getting regular physical activity, to people of all ages. Its purpose is to increase the number of children and adults, including seniors, who engage in regular moderate-intensity physical activity and follow a heart healthy eating plan and to demonstrate the positive impact that community park and recreation departments can have upon the adoption of such healthy behaviors.

Findings from a follow-up study of CATCH, reported on July 14th, showed that children who learned heart-healthy behaviors in grades 3 through 5 from the CATCH program continued to practice these behaviors for several years, often into middle school. CATCH materials have been distributed to all of the North Carolina communities participating in Hearts N' Parks, and the Charlotte staff received training and is already implementing the program. CATCH was funded by the NHLBI.

"Regular physical activity and heart healthy eating habits are key to preventing and controlling overweight and obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol -- major risk factors for cardiovascular disease," said Karen Donato, coordinator of the NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative. "NHLBI recognizes the many ways that community park and recreation departments positively affect the well-being of people and we are extremely pleased to join with NRPA to launch Hearts N' Parks Y2K in North Carolina," Ms. Donato said.

Nationally, about 6 million Americans have heart disease and 500,000 die each year of heart attacks. More than 40 percent of all deaths in North Carolina annually are from cardiovascular disease, giving the state the 15th highest cardiovascular disease death rate in the country.

The Charlotte event, to be held at the Mallard Creek Recreation Center, will feature a tour of the Hearts N' Parks activities, including the day camp, seniors' fitness class, and USA Tennis. The Amay James Steppers will provide a half-hour stepping demonstration preceding the event. The event will end with a heart healthy lunch at Noon, contributed by Subway, which has a commitment to promoting cardiovascular health throughout the State.

"This is a very important and exciting program, and Mecklenburg County is delighted to be a part of it," said Wayne Weston, Director of Park and Recreation. "Heart disease is such a major health problem that we are happy to play a role in helping people learn how to prevent and control it. We feel confident that the residents of Mecklenburg County will learn a lot while having a great time in our facility," he added.

The Hearts N' Parks activities that will take place this summer in North Carolina will emphasize the importance of leading a heart-healthy lifestyle from childhood through old age. Participants will learn how to incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity into their lives on most "and preferably all" days of the week. They also will learn how to develop and follow an eating plan that balances calories consumed with calories used and is low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and high in fruits and vegetables, lowfat dairy products and whole grains.

The NHLBI has been helping Americans and people worldwide stay healthier since 1948. NHLBI undertakes a wide range of activities to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, lung, and blood and sleep disorders.

NRPA supports the delivery of quality park and recreation resources through a nationwide network of recreation and park professionals and citizen advocates. The primary areas for national programs focus are health, youth development, and the environment.

The Mallard Park Recreation Center is located at 2530 Johnston Oehler Road, Charlotte, NC. Telephone: (704) 548-8234.

Amy Danzig
Technical Writer-Editor
(301) 496-4236 (phone)
(301) 402-2405 (fax)

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