PTA leaders and members of Redondo Beach’s Washington Elementary PTA (Redondo Beach Council, Thirty-Third District PTA) took health to heart following a lifesaving family event.
When PTA President Lindsay Smith and other volunteers began a family-education series last school year, little did they know it would take such a positive, personal and powerful turn. To get more families engaged in the school community, the PTA leaders asked parents what they were interested in, and their “ParentWise” education series took shape as a result of family feedback. Offering monthly meetings with renowned local issue experts, the events range from parenting tips, college-savings advice, healthy cooking and nutrition, and much more.
“One dad — and to have a dad there was great in itself — said the ‘ParentWise’ class he attended changed his whole way of parenting,” said Smith.
A CHANGE OF HEART
Smith said she and other volunteers already were in the midst of planning and scheduling their next ParentWise class when a family event changed the PTA agenda.
On March 20, Smith’s husband Peyton was in the kitchen making breakfast for family visitors when he collapsed. While one family member dialed 911, visitor Alexander DeLuca – an ER nurse – immediately began CPR. DeLuca’s CPR efforts established a pulse for EMTs to use an automated external defibrillator (AED), restoring Peyton’s heartbeat, health – and life.
‘IT’S REALLY STARTED SOMETHING’
Following the family’s experience and with the enthusiastic support of school administrators, Lindsay Smith and other PTA leaders created a ParentWise event all about heart health in partnership with the American Heart Association. Through their experience, the Smith family forged a relationship with the Redondo Beach Fire Department and paramedics, who attended the event and helped raise awareness of CPR and the need for more people to become CPR-certified. PTA volunteers also arranged to have a UCLA primary-care doctor and cardiologist there as well as a popular community health group.
“It’s really started something — it’s brought a totally new mindset to our community,” she said. “Now we’re looking at getting an AED machine for our school; when we had another event at our school, the entire fire department showed up; a church created a dinner for the whole fire station. It’s really been a mind-blowing experience.”
While Smith noted that it is difficult to have such a traumatic event happen in any family, the school-community response has been nothing short of “amazing.”
“We’re going to keep doing this!” she said.