Residents with heart art displays at Lincoln Way

A Happy Heart is a Healthy Heart

February is Heart Health Month, and at our communities across the Northwest region, our Resident Services team came up with creative activities to keep MHNW residents informed about ways to maintain a healthy and happy heart.

Hillside Gardens Residents on Go Red DayAt our Lincoln Way community in Lynnwood, youth residents learned all about physical and emotional heart health in a virtual program called ‘Heart Art – A Health for your Heart Program,’ led by Resident Services Coordinator, Natalie, and University of Washington Intern, Amanda. The program consisted of a virtual presentation and discussions about activities they can do to keep their hearts healthy, along with an art project. It was a collaborative effort with support from resident services staff at other MHNW properties, including Gardner House and Mercy Magnuson Place. Over 30 participants from across the Northwest region attended this program virtually, including youth residents from seven MHNW properties from Bellingham all the way down to Tacoma.

Heart art kitDuring this program, the kids distinguished what it means to have a healthy physical heart and emotional heart, and participated in fun activities in between the discussions, including a dance party to get the heart pumping and a breathing exercise to calm the heart down. Oftentimes, the physical aspect is emphasized, but the emotional health can be overlooked, so the participants were able to learn about the importance of both.

“The discussions around physical and emotional health were delightful. The examples that the kids brought up about fostering positive emotions to keep your emotional heart happy were touching,” recalls Natalie. They learned that doing nice things for each other and putting regular acts of kindness into practice can nurture a happy heart. Five-year-old Athalia reminded everyone that “the heart is all about love.”

According to Natalie, “The kids were truly engaged and excited, which is hard to accomplish in a virtual format. They seemed glued to the screen and responsive during the program. For me, that is a success!”

Paper heart art displays in window with girl posingBefore the program, each child was provided a heart art kit with paper hearts, which they used to write down heart-healthy practices they learned about during the class. “The kids were so excited about the art project and got straight to work creating their paper hearts so that they could turn them in immediately to display,” says Natalie. The paper hearts were displayed in the windows of the community center at Lincoln Way, acting as an art exhibit for all to enjoy.

Down in Tacoma, Resident Services Coordinator, Annie offered a heart health information session to residents on “Go Red Day” on February 5. Over 30 residents, from kids to seniors, representing four properties in the Hilltop neighborhood joined.

Residents on Go Red Day Hillside GardensDuring the session, Annie explained the symptoms of a heart attack and how to help prevent them. She created goodie bags for residents with various items, including hand sanitizers and red face masks to celebrate Go Red Day. The kids received snack bags with some fun and healthy snacks. Annie also provided each resident with a pamphlet outlining heart attack symptoms and how to improve your heart health, offered in both English and Vietnamese. “The residents appreciated all the information, and many made plans to place the print-outs on their refrigerator as a reminder of all the symptoms of a heart attack so that they know what to do,” said Annie.

Annie noted that culturally, calling for help might not be as common practice for many of the residents of our Hilltop communities. She emphasized that it is critical to call 911 if the symptoms of a heart attack last more than five minutes. She hopes that all residents can benefit from this information and take it to heart.

At Appian Way Apartments in Kent, Community Health Promoter Esther also held a Go Red Day event. She shared different ways for improving heart health and distributed a printout with self-care tips as a takeaway. With heart disease being the leading cause of death among women in the United States, Esther was glad to see that all participants who attended were women!