By Curt Yeomans
More than 600 Kilpatrick Elementary School students are fighting heart disease this week by doing alternating foot jumps, double-dutches and criss-crosses.
The students are participating in the American Heart Association's "Jump Rope for Heart" program, during their physical education classes. As part of the program, students solicit pledges from neighbors, friends and family members, to give money to the American Heart Association.
The money raised through "Jump Rope for Heart" is used by the American Heart Association to pay for research on new heart medicines and treatments, according to the heart-health-awareness group's web site.
"We're trying to raise, at least, one dollar per student, so that would be about $650," said Vickey Holcombe, the physical education teacher at Kilpatrick. "The kids are learning jump roping is fun and good for their heart. Some of them may have had family members, who have died from heart disease, and they may be remembering those family members as they jump rope."
The students began participating in this year's "Jump Rope for Heart" program during their P.E. classes on Monday. Holcombe said the youngsters will continue to participate in the program, during her class, until Friday.
"No matter whether they raised any money or not, they will be allowed to jump rope," the P.E. teacher said.
According to the American Heart Association's web site, the "Jump Rope for Heart" program is important because cardiovascular diseases and strokes are the causes of death for approximately 870,000 Americans every year. The group also states on its web site that a reported 27 million children have high cholesterol, while four million have "above-normal" blood pressure.
Several Kilpatrick students said they enjoyed participating in the program, because it blends an enjoyable activity with community service. "It's great to do this, because you can have fun while you're helping people," said first-grader, Alexis Fischer, 6, who is aiming to jump rope at least 70 times this week. "Helping people is important, because you're a doing a good thing."
Fifth-grader, Adrian Armstrong, 11, said the fact that "Jump Rope for Heart" is a fund-raiser for the American Heart Association is the most important thing to consider while participating in the program. "I like to help people out because they're sick, and going through some bad stuff," she said. "In the past, I've been able to jump rope 10 times before I messed up. I think I could do more now, because, whenever I had a few days off from school, I'd be practicing jump rope."