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Tuesday, December 1, 11 a.m. – Peckham Training Centre, 85 Peckham Ave., North York

100 high school teachers are participating in a training program which prepares them to teach CPR to their students as a regular part of their physical education and health curriculum. Based on the success of a pilot launched in September 1997, the Toronto program is now expanding from 18 to 30 schools involving 7,000 students. Spearheaded by the ACT Foundation, the initiative involves both the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

The CPR course prepares students to act quickly if a parent or grandparent suffers a heart attack, a sibling is involved in a drowning emergency or a school mate chokes. Teachers report the course builds self-esteem and also creates a “teachable moment” for heart health education.

Evaluation of last year’s pilot indicates:

  • students’ ability to identify symptoms of a heart attack improved substantially: 57% to 79%;
  • students’ confidence in their ability to respond to an emergency increased: 27% to 57%;
  • 54% of students said they were considering making “heart healthy” lifestyle changes (e.g. reducing fat in diet, eating healthier foods, increasing exercise);
  • the majority of students and teachers think CPR should be part of the regular school program

School board support is strong. “The participation of the Toronto District School Board with the Advanced Coronary Treatment Foundation over the past year has proven to be extremely beneficial in training our students in the important life skill of CPR. We look forward to expanding opportunities to train our staff to be able to prepare a wider group of students to respond to the need for a CPR intervention and we are most appreciative of the support of our partners who have enabled this vital program to grow and expand,” says Rod Thompson, Executive Officer – Instruction, Toronto District School Board.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board is equally enthusiastic. “The Toronto Catholic District School Board is delighted to have an opportunity to foster in students an effective bystander response in emergency situations through CPR training. Students will receive critical lifesaving knowledge and skills that can be applied throughout their lives,” says Johanne Stewart, Director of Education for the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

To expand the program to all schools, the ACT Foundation is leading a fundraising campaign entitled “Dollars For CPR Mannequins”. The National Post and Subway are donating 1,000 mannequins to the program over a 3-year period. ACT’s corporate health partners donated the original 800 mannequins for the pilot. $325,000 more needs to be raised for mannequins for the remaining 100 (of 150) Toronto schools. Once the program is established in all 150 Toronto schools, 35,000 students will be trained in CPR each year.

Tremendous support from community groups, elected officials, health care professionals and the corporate sector is making the program possible. ACT has enlisted St. John Ambulance to provide the Teacher Training, and the Toronto Paramedic Association has also endorsed the program.

The ACT Foundation is a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping communities across Canada establish the Mandatory High School CPR program. ACT’s corporate health partners are spearheading the corporate commitment for High School CPR: Astra Pharma, Hoechst Marion Roussel Canada, Merck Frosst Canada and Parke-Davis, Division of Warner Lambert.