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Students jump to heart health


These third-graders at West Madison Elementary School are participating in Jump Rope for Heart.

Most West Madison Elementary School students know someone living with heart disease … or who died from it. These students are exercising to promote heart health.

With Jump Rope for Heart, students learn about taking care of their hearts, physical education teacher Joy Brindley said. She has coordinated the effort for the past 22 years, which involves fundraising for the American Heart Association (AHA).

“I want students to learn that it feels great to help save lives, even if we don’t know the lives we are saving,” she said.

All West Madison students participate during PE class. Small groups take turns and rotate every two minutes, so one is always jumping. Each group jumps 1.5 to 2 hours total.

“We jump individually on Day 1, with partners on Day 2 and with long ropes on Day 3,” Brindley said. The last day, the gym’s time clock count downs, adding plenty of excitement. “Day 4 is a variety of jumping and a celebration of the event’s end.”

West Madison doesn’t collect donations based on jumping time. “We accept any amount and know our grand total is better when we all work together,” Brindley said.

“In 2010, only 10 percent raised money,” she said. In 2011, 25 percent of West Madison students raised $6,902, topping their $4,000 goal. “Last year was a huge success, due to an increase in online donations.”

The 2012 goal is $7,000.

Brindley takes all her “heart lessons” from the AHA. “They make it easy. Throughout the years, I’ve collected lots visuals for students to see and feel.”

Posters, heart-shaped stress balls, stethoscopes, flexible rubber tubes as blood vessels, a plush battery-operated beating heart and pulse rate monitor all reinforce lessons. Topics include “Checking Your Pulse,” “Cigarettes and Your Heart” and “Nutrition for Your Heart.”

“Parents can provide opportunities for children to live healthy, active lifestyles,” Brindley said. “Adults need to be actively involved and be good examples for our children.”

For more information, visit heart.org/jump.

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