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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Braylon Wymer, 10, tries out the Pump It Up! station in the new exhibit Heart Smart at Science Central on Saturday. The exhibit includes interactive stations for light exercise and education on how your heart works and much more.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Hunter Klaehn, 6, left, and sister Hailey, 12, play in the Purdue Extension PlayScape section in the new exhibit Heart Smart at Science Central on Saturday. Heart Smart was produced by the Purdue University Agriculture Exhibit Design Center, and is sponsored in part by the Indiana Donor Network and the Parkview Heart Institute.

Saturday, January 12, 2019 4:10 pm

Science Central unveils new Heart Smart exhibit

Hunter Klaehn couldn't wait to cut the ribbon Saturday to open the newest attraction at Science Central.

And with a quick snip of the scissors – after posing for a couple of photos – the 6-year-old from Fort Wayne became one of the first visitors to Heart Smart, a temporary exhibit that will be housed at Science Central through May 26.

Produced by the Purdue University Agriculture Exhibit Design Center, the display is sponsored by Parkview Heart Institute and the Indiana Donor Network, an Indianapolis-based organization that helps coordinate organ donation across the state.

The idea, organizers said, is to teach people about heart health by focusing on exercise, relaxation, reusing and conserving food, reducing waste and learning about organ donation.

"Education is a critical component in the work we do each day at Indiana Donor Network, which is why we are so excited to partner with Science Central," President and CEO Kellie Hanner said in a statement. "It is vital that Indiana youth understand the significance of donation and especially how important it is to register as an organ, tissue and eye donor."

Heart disease is a leading killer of adults in northeast Indiana and throughout the country, and that's another reason Science Central Executive Director Martin Fisher and exhibit sponsors said people should learn more about practicing healthy lifestyles.

About 610,000 people die from heart disease each year in the U.S. – about one in every four deaths – according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention. Heart disease killed 402 people in Allen County in 2017, according to a report from the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health.

"An exhibit like this shows easy ways to address heart health," Parkview Heart Institute COO Mike GeRue said.

Located on Science Central's lower level, the exhibit features interactive stations dedicated to healthy eating, facts about the heart, organ donation, food waste and exercise.

Noah Kistler, 7, of Defiance, Ohio, was busy pushing buttons where visitors could learn facts such as how often the human heart beats each day. (Answer: About 100,000 times).

His father, Ben Kistler, said they visit Science Central two or three times a year.

"It's something that's very important," Rosanne Klaehn said of heart health as grandchildren Hunter, 6, and Hailey, 12, played with items in an exercise area. "I don't think anybody can start too soon, taking care of yourself."

mleblanc@jg.net