K21 Health Foundation gives $35K grant for heart rate monitors at Wawasee Community Schools

Wawasee Community Schools received a $35,000 grant from the K21 Health Foundation in support of using heart rate monitors for Milford School, North Webster Elementary and Syracuse Elementary.

Milford physical education teacher Mercedes Pratt set out to find the funds to get the Heart Zones Systems for Wawasee students, according to a news release from Milford School.

“I went to the INSHAPE conference in 2017 and sat in on a session for Heart Zones Systems. We have all seen the different pieces of technology that tell us our heart rate, like Polar and Fitbit, but this one stood out to me the most. With this new system, I knew my students could find a new passion and ownership for their own health and fitness. It is amazing to know that the students can get instant feedback by looking at their wrist monitor. They love to see what color they are on,” she said.

The students at Milford School have a daily goal to be in the Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) Zone for 50 to 75 percent of the class time. The “blue” zone is the low intensity zone where light activity is done. The “yellow” zone is the moderate activity zone, but flashes purple on the students’ monitors. The “red” zone is the vigorous activity zone where students’ heart rate is high and burning the most calories.

Pratt said, “The data I collected from their heart rate monitors for the first six weeks has made it all worth it. I am extremely excited for our students to have the ability to use this technology. We will be able to get more in-depth with the system each year and my hope is that the students will be motivated to stay active. Our school data showed that Milford School students were at a 74 percent MVPA average during their physical education classes. They achieved the higher end of the daily goal in the first six weeks.”

“Kudos to Mercedes Pratt! We are so excited to support the passion and plan of Wawasee Schools effort to impact their elementary kids through this new technology,” said K21 President and CEO Rich Haddad. “Ms. Pratt’s training and commitment to implement this not only at her school in Milford, but the other elementary schools means that every child in their system will learn and be encouraged to embrace both cardiac health and personal commitment to being more active. K21 is excited to see the impact of this equipment and how it changes the lives of the kids and their families. “

Pratt wrote a grant for her students to get these heart rate monitors last year and was denied.

“It was the first grant I have ever written and I was just asking for my students at Milford. K21 encouraged me to write it for the entire corporation. I am so thankful for K21’s insight. It was similar to Christmas for me when K21 approved my second, and much larger, attempt,” she said.

Milford, North Webster and Syracuse received training and equipment in October and have been utilizing them in physical education classes since.

“If the data continues to go well, we will go through the grant process again to see if we can get Wawasee Middle School and Wawasee High School on board,” said Pratt.

Heart Zones Systems uses zoning, threshold and max heart rate technology to make physical activity fun, personalized and research/data driven, the release states.

Pratt said, “The monitors keep track of heart rates, calories burned, FIT points, counts the time for how long a students is in each zone, and so much more. It gives me immediate data charts that I am able to send to students and parents.”