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Seattle University (SU) College of Nursing (CoN) Assistant Professor, Dr. Steven J. Palazzo, in partnership with the Hope Heart Institute has developed an evidence-based cardiovascular (CV) program, Teen Take Heart, to serve high school students at increased risk for cardiovascular disease in under-resourced communities where educational resources are scarce.

The program consists of a series of innovative and impactful in-class instructional web and kit-based lessons facilitated by high school teachers who receive curriculum training during a summer workshop.

The four learning modules incorporate the sciences of cardiovascular structure & function, physiology, disease pathology, nutrition and activity, and systematic inquiry into 18 interactive lessons designed to increase CV knowledge and promote heart-healthy lifestyle behaviors and attitudes. The curriculum is informed by the latest evidenced-based research and current best practice standards.

The lessons demonstrate how the Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core ideas of the NGSS are integrated into the curriculum. Structure and Function are tied to homeostasis of the cardiac system while students ask questions and generate arguments about their health. The curriculum aligns with Washington State health standards.

Teen Take Heart compliments existing health promotion and disease prevention lessons and, if appropriate, can replace some lessons. The materials and teacher training are provided at no cost to participating high schools.

Furthermore, high school students are encouraged to serve as Healthy Heart Ambassadors to their community; organizing and leading community outreach events at the conclusion of the program that connect individuals and families to CV health-related resources. Exposure to health career options are embedded in the program and discussed throughout the students’ interactions with the program.