The numbers speak for themselves. According to Heart Foundation Australia, cardiovascular disease will affect two out of three families in Australia. An assessment of the coronary heart disease or heart disease statistics does not paint a healthy picture. The Heart Foundation highlights that heart disease will affect around 1.4 million Australians, while 380,000 Australians will have a heart attack in their life time.
A child in your classroom has been affected by heart disease; there may be members of staff in your education setting that have been affected by cardiovascular disease. Just as nearly everyone has been affected by this disease, everyone can make a difference to their lifestyle and the lifestyle of their family members to help confront this mostly preventable disease. Significantly, experience tells us that parents will change their lifestyle when their children show interest in something.
There is no better way to reinforce that yearlong message of a healthy lifestyle than consistent reinforcement of the message of a balanced diet and physical activity. Help parents raise awareness of how personal lifestyle choices will impact upon your health and those around you and the need for physical fitness. David had a heart attack aged 48, just 9 years ago. While the sudden medical emergency sent shock waves through his family, deep down David knew it was his lifestyle that had increased his risk.
‘I knew smoking and the bad diet would get me. I just didn’t think it would happen so young.’ During his preparation for a double heart bypass David learnt that his uncles had also suffered heart disease.
‘Yes, that surprised me, to learn the role family history plays in heart disease. I never knew they [his uncles] had had heart attacks.’ David is now a non-smoker; eats more vegetables and has regular physical activity with his 12 grandchildren. His change in lifestyle has revitalised his life.
‘That is the best part, being fit enough to play with them. Also, I know they will have teachers at school aware of how important a healthy body and a healthy mind is to young children. I never had that.’ David raises a valid point; every child attends an education centre, and it is in that context that the young can have consistent and accurate information about healthy choices.