STA Recipient of Grant from American Heart Association
Posted on 10/18/2019

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, marks 40 years of bringing heart health programs to schools across the country by awarding financial grants to invest in America’s schools and help educators make whole-body wellness a priority. In Edison, two schools were awarded grants to begin programs that will benefit the entire school community.

St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a long-time participant in annual American Heart Association Kids Heart Challenge events, was awarded $3,274 for an outdoor Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

“We are excited to see New Jersey students learning about whole-body wellness through our Kids Heart Challenge program,” said James Presbrey, vice president of Youth Market for the American Heart Association New Jersey. “The additional opportunity to provide funding for these schools means we are giving back to our youth in order to support better heart and brain health for all.”

St. Thomas applied for an outdoor AED to be available for all school events on the property. While the school already had a portable AED to bring to field events, this new equipment relieves the need to carry the equipment to every event. The grant also helped cover the costs of a weather-safe case to protect the unit outdoors.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to fund an additional AED on our school property that will be accessible to the entire school community,” said John Roche, a teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas High School who helped write the grant application. “We hope we never have to use it, but knowing that the community has it helps us feel more secure.”

According to the American Heart Association, more than 7,000 children under age 18 experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year. In 2014, Janet’s Law went into effect in New Jersey, which requires all public and private schools to have an AED on site, have at least five school employees certified in CPR/AED and have an emergency action plan for a sudden cardiac event. In addition, the CPR in Schools law, also passed in 2014, requires all high school students to learn CPR before graduation.

St. Thomas has gone above and beyond by supporting a student crisis management team, where students are certified in First Aid/CPR/AED and host regular trainings to simulate emergency situations. The grant-funded outdoor AED adds an additional safety layer to their emergency action plan.