Program HOBIT: We teach children to recognize the symptoms of a stroke or panic attacks

At ICRC, we are not only actively involved in scientific research but also strive to improve education and increase health literacy among the general public. And where else to start than with children? In our country, heart attacks and strokes are among the leading causes of death. Our HOBIT program teaches schoolchildren to recognize the symptoms of these diseases and, importantly, how to take action. Its e-learning, including all materials and worksheets, is available online and completely free of charge.

Hana Maršálková, the leader of Program HOBIT

“HOdina BIologie pro živoT” in Czech language, “The Hour of Biology for Life” in English. HOBIT. A health education program that aims to teach elementary school students to recognize and respond appropriately to the symptoms of serious illnesses and conditions. It focuses primarily on the prevention of stroke and myocardial infarction but also educates children about other common diseases in our population, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, panic disorder, Covid-19, and addiction.

“In 2009, research showed us that children in the second stage of elementary school know almost nothing about stroke, but they are interested in learning new information,” says Hana Maršálková, the head of the HOBIT program. “The ability to recognize its symptoms in a timely manner and take action is extremely important. Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented with the right prevention. However, if one does occur, it is crucial to get the affected person to the hospital as soon as possible to provide effective treatment. Therefore, the importance of health education is truly significant.”

The significance of the program is demonstrated not only by satisfied references from teachers and positive reactions from children but also by real results. Just a few months after the program was launched, two trained students successfully provided first aid on a man experiencing a heart attack.

The HOBIT program teaches children how to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke

Why teach children about stroke? Because by recognizing it early, they can save lives

“First aid for a stroke is truly simple, even a child can handle it,” continues Hana Maršálková. “The primary step is simply recognizing that something is happening. That’s what we mainly teach children as part of HOBIT.” Even though it may seem like the topic of stroke doesn’t concern children, unfortunately, the opposite is true. This condition can affect not only grandparents but also the generation of their parents. Although the average age of stroke patients is around 70 years, the number of younger patients is increasing worldwide.”

The Game of Life: Children themselves assess how to act

Video, worksheets, and a simulation test. HOBIT is a program prepared rigorously. In short videos, children will see real symptoms of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and more. In the e-learning platform, worksheets and materials for group and homework are available. At home, children can refresh their knowledge with a mobile game, freely downloadable on Google Play and the App Store. The life-saving game can also be played through a web browser.

The child will decide whether it is necessary to call an ambulance during The HOBIT Program game

“We want to make it easier for teachers.”

The creators have endeavored to design the program so that teachers have as little trouble as possible when implementing it into their teaching. “Practically, all that’s needed is a good internet connection and their own headphones,” says Hana Maršálková. Students log into the e-learning platform with a nickname and a unified password, eliminating GDPR-related issues. Children don’t need to manage their own access credentials for the program. “So, there’s no risk of a teacher spending half a class dealing with forgotten passwords of children,” adds Hana Maršálková.

HIP HOP teaches children first aid

The creators of HOBIT are constantly expanding their horizons and draw inspiration for their program from abroad as well. One of the most interesting experiences for them was their contact with the New York project Hip Hop Public Health. It educates children from various locations in the USA on how to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, what the risk factors are, and how to prevent stroke, all through hip-hop. Expressing it through this musical genre is relatable to students. In an entertaining way, important information is conveyed.

The program in the USA, HIP HOP Public Health, teaches students about health through music

To remember the symptoms and know how to help

The goal of HOBIT is for children to remember this information in the long term, thus raising a health-literate generation. “Our vision is the widespread implementation of the program in Czech schools so that every child has the opportunity to learn this life-critical information,” adds Hanka Maršálková.