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Sugar House Journal

Valentine’s Day hearts take on new meaning

Mar 30, 2017 12h19 ● By Natalie Mollinet

Pulley’s class flash the U sign after the U’s basketball team help them with exercises. (Teacher/Amber Pulley).

By Natalie Mollinet | [email protected]

When people see a heart shape, they typically think of love, especially on Valentine’s Day.  However, for Amber Pulley’s fifth-grade class, the heart not only symbolized love but life. With the help of the University of Utah’s women’s basketball team, the American Heart Association and some service projects, her class learned more about real hearts—and on the perfect, heart-filled day, February 14.

To start the day, half of the class came in early to surprise their first-grade buddies with paper hearts (Heart Attacking) taped all over their computer labs and office doors. They left notes expressing their gratitude for the staff at Highland Park Elementary and their little buddies.

“They enjoyed making the hearts with specific notes of appreciation to our secretarial staff,” Pulley said. “They loved sneaking around the hallway before school to do an act of service.”

“Coming to school early and heart attacking was so fun,” Kaas Bloxham, one of Pulley’s students, said, “It was fun to see their reaction and see how excited the front office got after reading our cards.”

After spreading love around the school, the students got to learn more about their actual hearts. Sarah Roundy with the American Heart Association talked with the students about how to keep their hearts healthy with good food and learning how to make those healthy choices daily.

“The students read nutrition labels and learned how to take their heart rate,” Pulley said.

According to the American Heart Association, when students learn good habits—exercising portion control, eating a balanced, healthy diet, and being aware of food labels—they perform better in school and on top of that they have better attendance and behave better.

After learning heart-healthy habits, it was time to learn what that food turns into: energy. The University of Utah’s women’s basketball team ran basketball drills with dribbling and shooting with them outside on the playground and taught them about good cardio for their hearts. Later the group went back inside to ask the team some questions about their health and the importance of education.

“The players love the opportunity to come and work out with the kids and show them some basketball skills,” Pulley said.

Pulley said that the players explained to the students how keeping up good grades is a big part of being on a team. Athletes in college and high school all needs to keep up their GPAs to maintain their positions on the team.

“The kids were so excited when we got there and they were so energetic and excited to participate, which made it a lot of fun,” Malia Nawahine, a shooting guard for the U women’s basketball team, said.

“It was fun do to some easy things and hard things on the court,” Dylan Johnson, another student of Pulley’s, said. “It was fun to have them work with us.”

After students learned to take care of their physical hearts it was time for them to grow their hearts by doing acts of service. After they spread their love around the school, they did so at home. The students spent their last hours at school typing up thoughtful Valentine letters to their parents, expressing their love and finally exchanging their own Valentines to their classmates.

“I’ve always like the idea of teaching the importance of the heart and all the way to make your heart healthy,” Pulley said, “and to include service opportunities, nutrition and exercise in the curriculum.”