Roughly 100 preschoolers got a running start to their weekend in the Providence Health Park Courtyard, as they took part in the annual Mini Heart Run.

They completed two or three laps in the Friday event, organized by the Providence Center for Childhood Development. Partners include the American Heart Association, Alaska Heart & Vascular Institute and the Alaska Children's Heart Center.

The Mini Heart Run is designed to encourage children to stay active by promoting a heart-healthy lifestyle.

"If you look at Alaska and the Lower 48 states, we're not doing a great job reducing obesity and diabetes which have long-term heart and cardiovascular and circulatory implications later in life," said Dr. Jacob Kelly, a cardiologist at the Alaska Heart & Vascular Institute. "If we start these habits in young kids — 1 [year] old, 2 years old — getting outside, moving their bodies, people are going to learn to move and to move in their community to make their heart and circulatory system healthy for many years to come."

Those health benefits are why Mai Moua had her young child take part in the event.

"So that way, as they grow up, it's part of them," Moua said. "It's healthy in general, you know? These days you definitely want them to be happy, healthy, living longer, so it's definitely important to you know participate in this type of event."

The Mini Heart Run takes place a week before the annual Alaska Heart Run on April 20 at the Alaska Airlines Center.

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