The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation awarded Christiana Care’s Center for Community Health a $195,809 grant to support its Cardiovascular Outreach Prevention Program during a press conference Tuesday, Feb. 5, at William Penn High School in New Castle. This is the second consecutive year in which Christiana Care has received funding from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, for a total of $348,463.
“This is a program that folds perfectly into The Christiana Care Way, which is to serve our neighbors — meaning this high school’s students and their families — as respectful, caring, expert partners in their health,” said Omar Khan, M.D., medical director of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at the Eugene du Pont Preventive Medicine & Rehabilitation Center at Christiana Care Health System. “We understand the value of using teens to engage their families in their health, and we are so grateful to the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation for their work in our community.”
The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation gave Christiana Care the award through its Connections for Cardiovascular Health program, which provides annual grants of $150,000 and up to U.S.-based nonprofit organizations engaged in charitable work at the community level.
Christiana Care carries out its Cardiovascular Outreach Prevention Program at four New Castle County high schools — Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, Hodgson Vocational Technical High School in Newark, Christiana High School in Newark, and William Penn — and targets underserved, low-income African-American teens and adult women. The goals of the program are to engage the teens to increase both their knowledge and confidence in their ability to make healthy lifestyle changes, as well as to teach them skills to improve the heart health of their mother or another important adult female in their lives.
“I was a cardiac surgeon and a cardiac patient, and what I can tell you is that it is very effective for our young folks to work with their families in programs that can be mutually beneficial,” said Kathleen McNicholas, M.D., medical director for Performance Improvement at Christiana Care.
In 2013, the program will continue to engage urban, African-American teens and adult females to make healthy lifestyle changes and is expected to reach up to 450 teens. In schools, there will be spring and fall classroom presentations and small group sessions focusing on nutrition, physical activity and mental wellness. The program also offers No Heart Left Behind, an eight-week online heart-health education program that pairs teen coaches with adults to learn about heart health, improve nutrition and increase physical activity. In the summer session, the program will reach teens and adults through Camp FRESH, a program designed to empower New Castle County youth so they can serve as ambassadors of nutrition and wise lifestyle choices in their communities.
“Christiana Care Health System’s program was one of only 22 programs in the United States that were chosen, out of hundreds of applications,” said James W. Blasetto, M.D., MPH, FACC chairman of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. “This program exemplifies why we exist, which is to respond to the urgent, unmet needs of the cardiovascular community.”
During the first year of the Cardiovascular Outreach Prevention Program, 107 teenagers were educated on the risk factors and warning signs of heart disease and equipped with tools to coach a significant adult in their life to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. As a result, the adult participants on average doubled the number of days they engaged in 30 minutes or more of physical activity, from only two days a week at the beginning of the program to four days a week at the end. Additionally, a survey conducted at the end of the program found that 97 percent of the adults and 85 percent of the teenagers learned new information about how to prevent heart disease.
“The program has been very enlightening for both of us, and it has given us the opportunity to practice some of the activities that can make us healthier,” said New Castle resident Sybil Lewis, whose freshman daughter, 15-year-old Caira, enrolled in the program at William Penn. “Hopefully, this program can reach out to more students and their mothers and we can prevent more heart disease in women.”