Healthy Hearts @ Wellfield Middle School

Wellfield Middle School was the next stop on the Healthy Hearts Project Tour – a series of six workshops for schools, funded by a Heart Research UK and Subway® Healthy Heart Grant.

Drawing on their experience of working within schools in the North Tyneside area, TICE mentors Lottie and Kath created a series of workshops to bring an awareness of the importance of heart health for children, through creative writing and illustration.

The aim of each workshop was to encourage children in years 5 and 6 to become more mindful of their lifestyle choices, with the hope of instilling healthy eating, drinking and lifestyle habits into their lives before they start at high school.

To begin the workshop, Lottie presented an “Introduction to Your Heart” slideshow that encompassed a wide range of fascinating facts about the heart, the role it plays in keeping us well and how we can help it to remain healthy. It drew the children into the subject by relating real world facts and figures and many of the children asked questions as Lottie spoke.

One of the facts that really amazed the children was that if you were to tie all of your veins and arteries together, the ‘string’ that would result would be long enough to go around the world – twice! This caused many open mouths and cries of, “Really?’

Next, a big bowl containing a pile of tennis balls was passed around the room. The children were asked to take a ball and to try to squeeze it with one hand. This gave them an idea of how much pressure the heart exerts and how hard it works to pump blood around our bodies. With much grimacing and huge amounts of effort, even our mentors could only manage to make a small impression on the balls’ surface.

Next it was time for a spot of art and the mentors handed around a selection of white cards and red ink pads. The children were asked to be very careful with the ink and then were shown how to make a thumbprint heart with their name on, for inclusion in the final project of the workshop – a calendar of work from all the schools that took part in the programme. This was great fun and the resulting scarlet red prints looked great.

Once the children had washed their hands clean of the ink it was time for a little culinary experimentation. On the menu? Tortilla turkey wraps. The children stood in a semi-circle as Kath gave a demonstration of how to make the wraps. She used low fat mascarpone instead of butter, spinach and baby cos lettuce leaves for crunch, slices of red and yellow pepper for colour, baby tomatoes for sweetness, turkey breast for protein, grated cheddar for calcium and – the old school favourite – strands of fresh cress for fun.

The children were then given their own bowls of ingredients and they were off. Armed with cutlery knives and chopping boards they sliced, shredded, spreaded, scattered and rolled with much enthusiasm – and were eager to sample their wares. Once each child had made a rolled tortilla, they were asked to donate one slice of their creations to a communal tray. They then watched with delight as the individual rolls were made into the shape of a Christmas tree, with a carved yellow pepper star at the top.

The final task of the morning was to create a piece of artwork for the project calendar. This was a piece for National No Smoking Day in March 2017. The aim was to promote the day and encourage people to be aware of the health risks associated with smoking with the use of persuasive language and strong slogans.

The children were also shown how to use a mixture of natural vegetable-based inks that included beetroot red and turmeric yellow, to create and design their eye-catching and original posters.

By the end of the session, the students’ heads were filled with facts about their hearts, recipes for tasty tortillas and a keen understanding of the dangers of smoking. And thankfully, not one drop of scarlet ink made it onto a white shirt!