How Giving Thanks is Good for Your Heart

Thankful_-_Heartbeat-4fb9acaa-8537-47ba-9555-d52dc41803e7-523706441_p-300x300 How Giving Thanks is Good for Your Heart

You’ve probably experienced the ways practicing gratitude is good for your heart in the figurative sense. Thanking someone for their kindness or offering gratitude to a higher power brings peace to our spirits, when done mindfully. Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of gratitude on mental health. The more we express it, the more likely we are to make friends and bounce back from challenges, and the less likely to experience depression. Even our self-esteem gets a boost!

But did you know that giving thanks is actually good for your physical, beating, blood-pumping heart as well?

A 2015 study conducted at the University of California, San Diego found that when people who had heart failure and heart disease kept a gratitude journal for eight weeks, they experienced reduced inflammation and increased heart rate variability (a sign of better heart health). They also had better mood, better sleep, and lower levels of fatigue–all factors that could help them prevent or bounce back from heart attack. A follow-up study confirmed these findings.

The benefits of gratitude on the physical heart are closely related to–or even stem from–the benefits to the emotional “heart.” Because stress is such a critical factor in the development of heart disease, observing a stress-relieving practice like keeping a gratitude journal can make a major difference in our risk. What a simple exercise to make such a meaningful impact on heart health! Giving thanks may be the easiest, do-anywhere tool you have at your disposal for well-being, both physical and mental.

So don’t let your thanksgiving end after Thanksgiving. The holiday season is the perfect time of year to start a gratitude journal or other thankfulness practice. Perhaps you make a commitment to count your blessings rather than check your phone at a red light. Or jot down one thing a day you’re thankful for in a visible place in your home. Or try a quick gratitude meditation from Youtube. Whatever little practice suits your style, you can be sure that giving heartfelt thanks will result in heart healthy benefits.

thanks How Giving Thanks is Good for Your Heart


By |November 16th, 2017|Categories: Holiday|Tags: , , |Comments Off on How Giving Thanks is Good for Your Heart

The Good News About Americans and Smoking

One of the principles the Halle Heart Children’s Museum educates visitors about is the importance of never, ever smoking. Our Stay on Course exhibit is devoted exclusively to informing kids about this vital component of heart health, showing kids some of the many detrimental effects tobacco can have on the entire body. In this exhibit, visitors can spin the “Wheel of Misfortune” to see examples of unfortunate health problems that come with tobacco use. Increased blood pressure, damaged lungs, and stained teeth are just a few of the consequences featured, in addition to–of course–the harmful effects of smoking on the heart.

Stay-on-Course-1-1024x768 The Good News About Americans and Smoking

Once kids have had a chance to spin the wheel, they can also apply what they’ve learned in a fun game: artery mini golf! This magnified blood vessel is partially blocked by a screen to demonstrate how smoking blocks blood flow. When visitors try to golf “blood cells” (red golf balls) through the artery of a smoker, they see how difficult it is.

Stay-on-Course-2-1024x768 The Good News About Americans and Smoking

Elementary age children who come to the museum are at a critical age for no-smoking education, because in all likelihood, they will at some point in their near future be offered a cigarette. After all, 90% of smokers begin this unhealthy habit before the age of 18.

But despite this unfortunate statistic, there’s good news, too!

Partly thanks to the efforts of public health organizations like the American Heart Association, fewer Americans are smoking now than ever before. Since the introduction of the Surgeon General’s warning in the mid-1960s, smoking rates have fallen dramatically. While 42% of Americans reported smoking in 1965, only 18% claimed to smoke in 2012 and only 15% in 2015. Even people who do smoke are doing so less frequently. Just since 2005, the percent of smokers who said they smoked daily decreased from 80.8% to 76.9% in 2013. Four years later in 2017, that percentage continues to drop.

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Another point of pride for Americans and our efforts to reduce tobacco consumption is that among developed countries, the U.S. has one of the lowest rates of smoking. Of 84 countries with smoking data available in 2015, the United States ranked 74th, ahead of all European countries except Denmark and Iceland. This is a huge public health success!

But our work isn’t done. Smoking continues to be the leading preventable cause of death in this country. The Halle Heart Children’s Museum exists to help the next generation of Americans say no to tobacco in every form, putting them at an advantage for their heart health.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Join the American Heart Association and the Halle Heart Children’s Museum in our mission to eliminate smoking to promote heart health!

By |October 31st, 2017|Categories: No Smoking|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on The Good News About Americans and Smoking

Healthy Halloween at HHCM

Facebook-Peak-Interest-Post-300x251 Healthy Halloween at HHCM

It’s every kid’s favorite question this time of year: what are you going to be for Halloween?

Here at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum, we know our answer: we’re going to be heart-healthy! (Though some of us might also be pirates, princesses, or Pikachus…and one of us will definitely be Lub Dub.)  On Saturday, October 28th, the whole museum will be celebrating an entire day of good-for-you Halloween fun. We’re ready to turn this holiday’s reputation for being less than healthy upside down with an array of wholesome activities, games, and even food.

If you join us on this special day, you can look forward to:

  • Halloween crafts all throughout the museum, starting at 9:00 when doors open.
  • A cooking demo in our Kitchen Cafe at 10:30 featuring DIY pumpkin-shaped tortilla chips and a tasty pumpkin hummus. Don’t miss the free samples and take-home recipe!
  • An appearance by everyone’s favorite larger-than-life heart–our mascot, Lub Dub–at 11:00.

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  • A costume dance party and balloon drop at 12:00 (so make sure your costume is dance-able)!
  • Halloween-themed games starting at 1:00.

If you have an HHCM membership, the fun continues even later, as the museum will stay open an additional two hours just for members! We’ll have a healthy trick-or-treating path through our eight exhibits, a Halloween movie playing in the Goldman Legacy Theater, a costume contest, and extra time to get down on the dance floor to music so good it’s spooky. Not a member yet? There’s no better time to join online or stop by the Guest Services counter to register. You’ll get free admission to the museum every day of the year, reduced rates on classes, programs, and birthday parties, and access to exclusive events and activities like this one!

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So…what are YOU going to be for Halloween? Whatever your answer, we hope you’ll come and share it with us Saturday, October 28th, at this one-of-a-kind family event.


Recipe: Korean Vegetable Pancakes

KOREAN-VEGETABLE-PANCAKES-min-300x158 Recipe: Korean Vegetable Pancakes

September is Better Breakfast Month at the American Heart Association. When you think of eating a better breakfast, what comes to mind? Eating whole grains instead of refined, perhaps, cutting back on sugar, or topping your morning cereal with some fresh fruit? All fantastic options. What about adding vegetables? Many Americans struggle to get enough vegetables in our diet in general, let alone at breakfast. But it can be done–and it doesn’t have to mean gnawing on a stalk of broccoli next to your toast and coffee.

These Korean Vegetable Pancakes are a tasty, unique way to make vegetables appealing at breakfast time (for kids and adults alike). After all, who doesn’t like pancakes? Finely grating carrots, zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower and adding them to an egg and flour-based pancake batter creates a pleasing texture and taste with a hefty dose of health! Some of the nutritional benefits of the veggies in this recipe include:

  • Broccoli has plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. New research shows certain compounds in broccoli may be cancer-fighting.
  • Cauliflower is rich in fiber, potassium (good for your heart) and vitamin B6 (for energy & brain function).
  • Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A—great for your vision.
  • Zucchini is high in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin A.

In addition to being an excellent choice for health, these pancakes also:

  • Have a super-quick cooking time of only 2 minutes per side.
  • Could be made for lunch or dinner, served with toppings like ketchup, cream cheese, or teriyaki sauce.
  • Could serve as a craveable appetizer, cut into quarters and served on skewers or toothpicks.
  • Contain no Korean spices (despite their name) but are extremely flexible as to what herbs or spices could be added for extra flavor.

We’re happy to share that we’ll be demonstrating this Korean Vegetable Pancakes recipe Saturday, September 30th here at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum’s Simple Cooking with Heart program. Join us at 10:30 in the museum’s Kitchen Café for a how-to, recipe card, and free samples.

Here’s to better breakfasts for you and your family!

Korean Vegetable Pancakes

(An American Heart Association Recipe.)

Makes 4 Servings



1 Add enough ice cubes into 2 1/2 cups water to make water ice-cold.

2 In the bowl of a food processor, add carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and scallions. Pulse to puree vegetables until finely chopped-but be careful not to turn the vegetables into liquid.

3 Into a large bowl, add flour, eggs, salt, and pepper. Pour in 2 cups of cold water (without ice cubes). Use a fork to whisk mixture together until combined. Stir in the pureed vegetables. Aim for a pancake-like batter consistency, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons more water if needed.

4 Coat an 8-inch nonstick pan with cooking spray and warm over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup batter into the center of the pan. Cook until edges begin to get golden-about 2 to 3 minutes-and then use a spatula to carefully flip. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes until the side is golden. Transfer pancake to a plate. Spray pan with cooking spray and repeat continually until all 8 pancakes are made.

Phoenix 5Ks This Fall

running-runner-long-distance-fitness-40751 Phoenix 5Ks This Fall

Here at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum, we educate kids on three important practices to keep their hearts healthy:

  • Never smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get plenty of exercise!

We may mostly be teaching kids about these crucial principles, but they apply to adults, too! Of these three activities that keep up our cardiovascular health, getting daily exercise may be the biggest challenge for us adults. Thirty minutes a day, five days a week is a proven rule of thumb for lowering blood pressure and risk of heart attack or stroke. But unlike kids, who typically have some physical activity built into their day through P.E. and recess, grown-ups have to work a bit harder to make it happen.

With the weather getting ready to cool down, fall is a great time to get outside for some of those 150 minutes per week of moderate activity recommended by the American Heart Association. What about challenging yourself to run a 5k? Even if you’ve never been a runner, there are numerous “couch to 5k” programs available online that offer a clear-cut path from non-runner to race finisher. Scheduling an event to look forward to is a great motivator for working in some cardio on a regular basis.

There’s no shortage of options for 5k races coming up in the Valley this fall! With tons of fun choices–from goofy themed runs to races that benefit a worthy cause–there’s a 5k for everyone. Here are ten upcoming 5ks around town to get you excited about hitting the pavement for your heart.

1. T-Rex Run – September 23rd

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What do you do if a T-rex is chasing you? You RUN! And in this case, you run for a good cause, since the T-Rex Run benefits Team RWB, a veterans’ support group. Check it out September 23rd at Mesa Riverview Park.

2. Run FORE Cancer – September 23rd

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Make a difference for cancer patients at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and Barrow Neurological Institute by participating in this race at the Scottsdale Silverado Golf Course.

3. Phoenix Children’s Hospital 5k – October 7th

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CityScape in downtown Phoenix is the site of this run that raises funds for some of the neediest among us: the children served by Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

4. Thin Mint Sprint – October 7th

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Got a Girl Scout in your life? Show her your support by registering for the Thin Mint Sprint in Tempe. (Or, for beginners, there’s even a 1-mile Samosa Stroll.)

5. Hip Hop Run – October 8th

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DJs playing upbeat tunes all along the course are a sure thing to get you moving and grooving at this fun race! Join the party at Kiwanis Park.

6. A Race for Maggie’s Place – October 8th

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Maggie’s Place provides housing and assistance to pregnant and parenting moms in need. Give them a hand (or a foot) by signing up for one of the courses in this multi-distance race.

7. Das Frank Kush Foot Race – October 14th

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Why the “das” in “Das Frank Kush Foot Race”? This local classic is a part of Tempe’s annual Oktoberfest. Extra points for running in your lederhosen.

8. Mountain Park Health Center 5k – October 14th

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Head over to Kiwanis Park to raise funds for a new medical clinic in Tempe at the 2nd annual Mountain Park Health Center race. Dog owners will be happy to know that pets are welcome!

9. The Mummy Run – October 30th

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Prepare to get spooky at this family-friendly run at Mesa Riverview Park.

10. Fat Turkey Trail Run – November 25th

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What Thanksgiving Day couldn’t use a little extra activity? Counterbalance holiday indulgence with this race that starts at Tempe Town Lake and winds through Papago Park.

By |September 20th, 2017|Categories: Physical Activity|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Phoenix 5Ks This Fall

Member Appreciation Paint Night

image001 Member Appreciation Paint Night

We LOVE our members at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum! The wonderful folks who visit again and again are what make our museum tick. As a member of the HHCM, you help children learn important principles for a lifetime of heart health in a stimulating, interactive environment. We can’t thank you enough for being a part of all we do!

As a gesture of appreciation, we’re excited to offer a fun-filled evening event for members only!

On Thursday, September 28th, join us in the museum’s colorful Follow Your Heart exhibit–also known as “the big heart”–for a Paint Night. Led by the talented instructors of Painting with Canvas, we’ll learn to paint works of art step by step (so don’t worry if you’re not a natural artist). Each member will have the option to paint a tree with sunset background (pictured above), or a piece of a puzzle picturing our mascot, Lub Dub, to be displayed in the museum. While the creative juices are flowing, we’ll serve a variety of hors d’oeuvres and nonalcoholic beverages. Kids are invited, too! A kid-friendly movie and craft will entertain the little ones while parents are painting.

If you’re not a member of the HHCM yet, there’s no better time to join! During the month of September, take advantage of our “Sept-Member” special of $5 off any membership. Join today in person or online using the discount SEPT-MEMBER to access all the benefits of membership, from free admission to reduced rates on programming to exclusive events like this one. Once you’ve purchased a membership–or if you already have one–head over here by September 18th to secure your spot for the Paint Night.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to our museum members! We can’t wait to see you and your works of (he)art!

7e985a_70f0e38a27d740ad8d6f6e752d3b218fmv1 Member Appreciation Paint Night

By |September 15th, 2017|Categories: Events, Membership|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Member Appreciation Paint Night

Recipe: Apple Nachos

apple-nachos-sized Recipe: Apple Nachos

Maybe you started off the summer with visions of feeding your kids healthy meals and snacks galore, making their little hearts sing with fruit and veggie-loving delight. Yes! you said to yourself. It can’t be that hard! I’ll just find some cute, creative ideas on Pinterest to turn fruits and veggies into appealing treats. You know, something simple and easy to whip up in a flash, like…

Watermelon-ship Recipe: Apple Nachos

(Just kidding.)

And then, somewhere along the way, it the “fruit” part turned into fruit snacks, the veggies were nixed entirely, and the feeding part turned into, well, this:

FeedingFrenzy Recipe: Apple Nachos

It’s ok. We’ve all been there. But if your best-laid summer plans for healthy snacks have gone a bit off the rails, it’s not too late to get back on track. Did you know that the American Heart Association has an entire website of simple, heart-healthy recipes? These Apple Nachos from the AHA’s recipe repertoire turn an everyday snack into something a little more special—without a ton of effort or any fancy ingredients. Apple slices are layered with healthy toppings of cranberries, nuts, and a peanut butter drizzle to achieve a “nacho” effect. Kids can even get involved with the preparation by sprinkling their own toppings. It’s a simple kid-pleaser that’s big on taste and presentation.

From all of us at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum, have a safe and healthy rest of your summer!

Apple Nachos


1/3 c. dried, unsweetened cranberries or raisins
1/4 c. sliced, unsalted almonds
2 Tbsp. hulled, unsalted sunflower seeds
3 red or green apples
1-2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 c. reduced-fat smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp. honey


  1. In a small bowl, combine dried cranberries/raisins, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
  2. Core each apple and thinly slice into about 12 pieces each. Layer half the apples onto a large plate or platter. If the apple slices will be sitting out for awhile, sprinkle them with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
  3. Using the microwave or a teapot, bring 2 Tbsp. water to a boil. In a small bowl, combine water, peanut butter, and honey. Stir mixture until smooth.
  4. Drizzle half the peanut butter mixture over the apples on the platter, then sprinkle with half the cranberry mixture. Layer the remaining apples on top and repeat with remaining peanut butter and cranberry mixture. Serve.
By |July 18th, 2017|Categories: Recipes|Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Recipe: Apple Nachos

Summer Events at HHCM

unnamed Summer Events at HHCM

For many of us, the beginning of July marks the halfway point of the summer. We’re halfway through time off school, swim lessons, and (thankfully! hopefully?) days in the 120 degree range. Here at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum, now that June is past, we’re looking back fondly on the past month and feeling excited about all the activities to come during the rest of the summer! Here’s a quick recap of the fun events we’ve experienced so far at the museum and several more to come before summer’s end.

So far in June…

Since the start of summer, Camp Heart Beat has been in full swing, with a different theme each week. Campers explore the museum’s 16,000 square feet of interactive exhibits that teach them what it means to live heart-healthy lives. After their tour, our Kids’ Cafe provides campers with a nutritious lunch courtesy of St. Mary’s Food Bank.

Cafe Summer Events at HHCM

Summer is also the time for Terrific Tuesdays at the museum! Did you know you can get your heart pumping by getting down with your bad self at our weekly dance party? Every Tuesday at 1:00 P.M., join us on the dance floor (yes, a real dance floor!) as we shimmy and shake to upbeat music. We top off the experience with a balloon drop—because, as anyone who has ever danced with balloons knows, it ROCKS!

FullSizeRender-2 Summer Events at HHCM

Kids Cook with Heart is another HHCM program from the month of June we’re still drooling—er, reminiscing—about. This brand-new monthly class is a great opportunity for school-aged kids! During a 90-minute session, they join a guest chef for a cooking lesson that includes useful, age-appropriate nutrition info. Did we mention it’s free? Register here for upcoming sessions.

File_002-e1497971590902 Summer Events at HHCM

As summer programming adds to our event offerings, that doesn’t mean the HHCM’s beloved regular activities are on hold. Toddler Test Kitchen continues throughout the summer with a 4-week series teaching the youngest chefs the basics of cooking and kitchen safety. And Fridays are as high-energy as ever with Get Moving! and Little Rhythms fitness classes for little ones up to age seven.

Still to come in July…

There’s a whole lot more heart-healthy fun to come! Our hearts will go on as four weeks of themed events make up the month of July.

During CPR Super Hero Week (July 5th-8th) real-life superheroes–also known as first responders–will be joining us to share about the amazing work they do in our community. All this week, admission for first responders and their families will be complementary, and our first 300 guests ages 17 and under will receive free superhero capes! (‘Cause who doesn’t want a superhero cape?)

DSC_0036 Summer Events at HHCM

Kids Move with Heart Week (July 10th-15th) will feature an indoor inflatable obstacle course that proves there’s always a way to have heart-healthy fun, even when it’s boil-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot outside.

HHCM visitors always enjoy our exhibit about animal hearts…but what about dinosaur hearts? Dinosaur Discovery Week (July 17th-21st) promises to be a roaring good time as we uncover the cardiovascular systems of prehistoric creatures.

IMG_2759 Summer Events at HHCM

Join us for thought-provoking lessons on practicing green living during “Our Planet, Ourselves” Sustainability Week (July 24th-29th), where we’ll learn how the health of our hearts and the health of our planet go hand in hand.

Last but not least, all programs from June–Camp Heart Beat, Terrific Tuesdays, Kids Cook with Heart, Toddler Test Kitchen, and Little Rhythms/Get Moving!–continue through the month of July. Every day of summer is a new chance to explore healthy lifestyles at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum!


Kids Cook With Heart

If you’re a frequent visitor to the Halle Heart Children’s Museum or follow us on social media, you may have heard of our popular Toddler Test Kitchen program, in which little ones learn to cook simple, healthy recipes in a fun, hands-on environment.

But do toddlers get to have all the cooking fun at the HHCM?

No way! We’re excited to share that now kids ages 7-12 have a cooking program of their own in the museum’s Kitchen Cafe. Chefs-in-training are invited to join Kids Cook with Heart, a brand-new series sponsored by the Junior League of Phoenix. One Saturday a month, elementary-age students can join in an hour and a half session that incorporates healthy eating education with cooking age-appropriate nutritious recipes.

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The HHCM believes that it’s never too early to start a lifetime of heart health. Research shows that the more people cook for themselves, the healthier they are likely to be. If kids in this formative grade school age group can learn the valuable skills of cooking healthy meals in the home kitchen (and share this knowledge with their families), they’ll have a head start on the prevention of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Children in underserved communities are particularly vulnerable to increased risk of these health issues, which is part of the reason Kids Cook with Heart is totally FREE! Anyone can join by registering HERE.

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Our first session of the program kicked off this past Saturday, June 17th. A kitchen full of junior chefs was instructed by guest chef Ellen from The Farm at South Mountain, a local establishment known for its commitment to sustainable, seasonal foods. A spirit of culinary adventure prevailed, as Chef Ellen invited students to try some unusual veggies—a Persian cucumber and Zebra Stripe and Indigo Rose heirloom tomatoes. These seasonal delights were included as ingredients in the Summer Corn Salad on the menu for the day. Nothing says summer like grilled corn!

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Throughout the course of the class, junior chefs were given the responsibility of cooking ears of corn on a grill (no small task even for adults), chopping additional ingredients to add to the mix, and honing their chefs’ palates by tasting and adjusting seasonings like lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Summer-Corn-Salad-Recipe Kids Cook With Heart

In addition to the hands-on cooking portion of the experience, our budding chefs took a break from the kitchen and participated in one of our favorite museum activities, Video Game Olympics, which incorporates physical movement into something all kids love, video games!

KCwH-VideoGameOlympics Kids Cook With Heart

There’s more where this came from! Be sure to secure a spot for your 7-12-year-old child at any of our upcoming dates of Kids Cook with Heart.

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Mother’s Day Membership Special

Mom-and-daughter Mother's Day Membership Special

How do you decide what to get your mom for Mother’s Day? Maybe you ask yourself, “What kinds of things is Mom into?” and go from there. If your mom is into cooking, for example, you might get her some nice cookware or kitchen gadget she doesn’t already have. If she’s into exercise, you might get her some pretty workout clothes or the latest pedometer. And if she’s into underwater basket weaving, you’ll get her some basket reeds and a snorkel…because, hey, that’s what she’s into.

One thing most moms are into is their kids. Spending quality time with their kids tends to make mom-hearts happy. The Halle Heart Children’s Museum knows this very well–after all, we’re all about hearts! That’s why, for Mother’s Day, we’re offering a membership special. What mom wouldn’t love to be able to spend time with her kids visiting the world’s only museum devoted to educating about the human heart and heart-healthy lifestyle? And what mom wouldn’t love member discounts on other fun activities and programs she can do with her kids?

Become-a-Member-1024x470 Mother's Day Membership Special

To honor moms, our Mother’s Day Membership Special offers a choice of a 2-person, 3-person, or 4-person membership at reduced rates. A 2-person membership (regularly $55) is only $35, a 3-person membership (regularly $70) is only $45, and a 4-person membership (regularly $85) is only $55!

Membership benefits include one year of:

  • Unlimited admission to the Halle Heart Children’s Museum
  • Complimentary and discounted admission to monthly programming
  • 20% off birthday packages
  • 20% off facility rentals for meetings, receptions, etc.
  • Exclusive member events and hours

So whether your mom is into healthy eating, exercise, underwater basket weaving, or just spending time with her kids, give the HHCM a call to purchase her membership today, or visit our membership page to purchase online–and don’t forget to enter a Mother’s Day discount code!

Mother’s Day discount codes are as follows:

2-person membership: WEHEARTMOMS2

3-person membership: WEHEARTMOMS3

4-person membership: WEHEARTMOMS4

Older-mom-and-daughter Mother's Day Membership Special

We’ll see you (and your mom) soon!


By |April 26th, 2017|Categories: Membership|Tags: |Comments Off on Mother’s Day Membership Special