Students wear their hearts on their jump ropes

Local school participates in American Heart Association fundraiser

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published March 4, 2015

 Mound Park Elementary School gym teacher Deanna Murray helps third-grader Javion O’Bryant put his jump rope away after finishing the Jump Rope for Heart activity Feb. 24. At press time, the student body had raised $1,062 in donations.

Mound Park Elementary School gym teacher Deanna Murray helps third-grader Javion O’Bryant put his jump rope away after finishing the Jump Rope for Heart activity Feb. 24. At press time, the student body had raised $1,062 in donations.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WARREN — When participating in the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart program at school last week, Mound Park third-grader Miranda Luwick jumped “in honor” of her dad.

“He had heart surgery was he was 10,” she said, adding that he is OK now.

Jump Rope For Heart meant so much to Luwick that by Feb. 27, she was the top collector in the school and had already raised $100 for the cause. Mound Park is part of Fitzgerald Public Schools.

Jump Rope for Heart is a fundraiser for the AHA in which students seek monetary donations from family members, friends, neighbors and other sources. Students, in turn, perform various jump-roping exercises while in gym class to honor those living with heart disease.

To help the Mound Park students better understand Jump Rope for Heart, physical education teacher Deanna Murray held a kickoff event Jan. 20 with AHA representatives.

It included a performance from Beck Elementary School students, who wowed with a jump-roping show that included fancy footwork. The AHA’s visit also is an educational lesson for students on how to take care of their hearts.

“(They) also talked about how you can get heart disease, and they showed us a video of a girl who had heart disease,” third-grader Shajan Al-Shmariy said.

That touched third-grader Raheem Davis.

“It made me feel kind of sad (that) they have to have heart surgery,” said Davis, who added that the representatives also “talked about how people can get cavities from eating sugar. I started eating stuff like carrots, grapes, apples and oranges.”

Murray coordinated a number of jump-roping activities the week of Feb. 23 for the students to tackle in class based on the Beck show. Some of the moves, like the “can can” and the “straddle cross,” were rather tricky. Another tough one was the “360,” where students had to turn in a complete circle while jump-roping.

“It’s supposed to challenge you. When you are challenged, that’s when you learn the best,” Murray said. “If you do get tired, sit down and rest until you are ready to come back in.”

Al-Shmariy liked the Jump Rope for Heart activities.

“I’m kind of feeling happy,” she said. “I’m helping kids who have heart disease.”

But before they got jumping, Murray gave a brief instructional talk on the heart.

“Your heart is a muscle. It needs to be exercised. It needs to be worked out,” the educator said. “Every time your hearts squeezes, it’s pumping nutrients and oxygen to different organs to other areas.”

Murray also emphasized the importance of physical exercise to maintain a healthy heart and mind.

“It improves your mood. It improves your memory,” Murray said.

The physical education teacher also advised against using tobacco and smoking.


“It could cause cancer,” she said. “It hurts every organ in the body.”

The American Heart Association is a nonprofit organization devoted to combating heart disease and strokes. Volunteers also find ways to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to save and improve lives.

According to a fact sheet Murray provided, the AHA has invested more than $13.5 million on new research awards related to children’s heart disease. Volunteers also provide lifesaving CPR courses for middle school and high school students.

For more information on the American Heart Association, visit www.heart.org.

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