In this assembly Brian Radcliffe invites students to consider the health of their hearts, focussing on the British Heart Foundation’s Go Red for Heart campaign

Resources

Engagement

Leader: Welcome to Heart to Heart, the quiz show that’s red all the way through. Let’s introduce you to our teams. To my right I have the Arty Arteries [introduce team members] and to my left the Vain Veins [introduce team members]. Each team will answer a series of four questions on the subject of…the human heart.

[Leader quizzes the teams in the style of a cheesy TV quiz show host using the following questions]
  1. How many hollow chambers does the heart consist of – is it 2, 3 or 4? [Answer: 4]
  2. What is the average resting heart beat for a healthy adult man or woman – is it 40 beats per minute, 70 beats per minute or 90 beats per minute? [Answer: 70]
  3. In what way is heart muscle different to any other muscle in the human body? [Answer: it never gets tired]
  4. Heart conditions are usually referred to as cardiac. From which language does the word cardiac originate? [Answer: Greek]
  5. How many lives are lost each year in the UK to heart and circulatory disease – is it 50,000, 100,000 or 200,000? [Answer: 200,000]
  6. Which meal would contain the highest percentage of dangerous saturated fats: hot meat pie and chips, spaghetti Bolognese or a roast chicken dinner? [Answer: pie and chips]
  7. Name 3 dangers to a healthy heart [Answer: accept any from smoking, excessive drinking, fatty foods, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, stress, weight gain or any other reasonable answer]
  8. Name 3 ways to develop a healthy heart [Answer: accept any from low fat diet, moderate alcohol intake, exercise, relaxation, weight loss or any other reasonable answer]
[Award the prize to the winning team]

Reflection

The month of February has been designated Go Red for Heart month by the British Heart Foundation. During the month you may already have seen an awful lot of red around the community and in the media linked to the British Heart Foundation. There have been ‘Wear Red Days’ in schools, colleges and places of work. People have held ‘Red Parties’ and ‘Red Cake Sales’; even a ’Wear Red Speed Dating Event’. And on St George’s Day, Thursday February 19th, there will be events planned in which the red part of the English flag will dominate.

Red is the colour we use to give warning; it’s a visual alarm signal. Red is also the colour of the stop light. It’s a signal that we take to mean ‘don’t go any further’. That’s why the colour red has been chosen by the British Heart Foundation; it wants us to be aware of the responsibility we have for our hearts and must take seriously. It’s also the colour of the blood that pumps through our hearts, particularly when it’s oxygen rich (as it should be).

200,000 is a lot of people to die each year of heart and circulatory disease. Some of those people die because they have a congenital heart condition. Others die of heart disease caused by a viral infection. The British Heart Foundation is working at the forefront of research which they hope will one day save people from these types of early deaths.

However, many of those people die from heart conditions that are the result of an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, stress and smoking. The solution to these conditions is the responsibility of you and me.

How important is your heart to you? It’s a funny old organ. It crops up all over the place in songs, films, poems and religious faiths. It appears to be the part of our body that sums up who we really are. Throughout history it’s been the centre of our emotions, the source of our conscience, the origin of our will and purpose. It’s always at the ‘heart of the matter’, to use a traditional phrase. And the condition of your heart in 10, 20, 50 years time depends on how you live your life now. The condition of my heart is a result of what I’ve been doing for the past 10 [20, 30] years.

Let’s be practical. If we were to take just two decisions about our lifestyle we could extend the length our lives and improve the quality of our lives measurably. What are the two decisions?

The first is to eat less saturated fat, the type that clogs up our arteries. On the one hand that means eating less processed food, ready meals and takeaways. On the other it means eating more fresh cooked food, which is so much tastier anyway. The second decision is to take regular exercise. That doesn’t have to mean long sweaty hours at the gym. It could be a leisurely walk home chatting to your mates, a session on the rock climbing wall or a night’s dancing. John Sergeant apparently lost two stone in weight while rehearsing for Strictly Come Dancing.

Those two simple decisions may not appear important to you at this age, but remember: the person you become tomorrow is the result of the way you live today.

Response

Meanwhile, think about the words of this prayer. Make it your own if you wish.

Dear GodMy heart is a precious part of meI realise that, despite its strength and endurance it can easily be damagedI accept that its health is my responsibilityMake me aware of the choices I make, that can be beneficial or harmful to my heartHelp me to distinguish between themEnable me to make decisions that lead to a long and healthy life because I’ve created a strong and healthy heart

Amen

This e-bulletin issue was first published in February 2009

About the author: Brian Radcliffe

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