By Gail Marsh
Take heart! Yes, February is American Heart Month. It’s the perfect time for you to host a heartfelt outreach event for the people in your church family, as well as those living in your church’s neighborhood!
First, you’ll want to reserve your fellowship hall, your gymnasium, or the community center. Next, think about church members or others you know who can
- take an accurate blood pressure reading;
- lead heart-healthy exercises;
- demonstrate heart-wise snacks and healthy cooking tips;
- present a simplified CPR session;
- teach how to recognize heart attack and stroke symptoms;
- speak about ways to prevent heart disease;
- inform guests about local health resources.
In addition to the various informational booths, you may want to provide a children’s “make and take” area. Perhaps have a no-prep craft for children to assemble, a placemat to color, and an activity book to complete.
Want to incorporate some heart-filled ideas on a somewhat smaller scale? Try one or more of the following ideas:
- Organize a walk or run for heart health. Donate all proceeds to the American Heart Association or heart specialty hospital.
- Add a few heart-healthy exercise or nutrition suggestions to your weekly church bulletin.
- Invite your parish nurse to provide free blood-pressure screenings one or two Sundays after church.
- Put heart-healthy tips on your Facebook or Twitter page, or your church website.
- Plan activities that promote heart health at youth meetings and events.
- Make your fellowship hall available as a meeting place for healthy-dieting support groups.
- Order heart-health information brochures. Place the pamphlets in your narthex or parish nurse’s office so worshipers have easy access.
- Start a walking group in your neighborhood. Invite the community to use your property as a safe place to build healthy hearts.
- Ask a local doctor, nurse, or nutritionist to speak to your men’s and women’s groups about heart health.
- Organize a “wear red” Sunday to raise awareness for women’s heart health.
- Encourage worshipers to post heart-healthy recipes, exercise routines, or other health tips on your website and social media pages.
- Provide heart-healthy snacks at church meetings and children’s events.
Give all of the volunteers who help with your special heart-health events a heartfelt thank-you gift.
How is your church planning to emphasize American Heart Month?
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