Colt students raise money for American Heart Association

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — While it might look like a simple child’s toy, the humble jump rope helps keep hearts and bodies healthy as well as raises money for heart-disease research.

Now you might never look at that long piece of rope or plastic the same way again.

At least that’s what Colt Elementary School physical education teacher Debby Johnson and her students are hoping.

“It’s really a simple way for kids to get their hearts pumping,” Johnson said. “And it’s not just for kids. Adults can do it to.”

Johnson and the Colt Elementary students are in full swing in the annual American Heart Association’s “Jump Rope for Heart” program. The monthlong initiative gives kids a chance to jump rope for themselves but also help other people.

“The kids can raise a dollar, five dollars or a lot more,” Johnson said. “And sure, the kids can earn prizes for getting certain amounts, but I tell the kids don’t do it for the prizes, do it because it’s helping other people out. Do it because it makes you feel good inside.”

Students can solicit donations in several ways, including going door to door, though Johnson discourages that. She pointed out a safer way is by encouraging people to go through the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org and clicking on the “Educator” heading to locate the “Jump Rope for Heart” section.

The program isn’t just about jumping rope.

During the course of the month, Johnson talks to the students about the heart and what it takes to keep their hearts healthy. One of the first things she noted was the role of diet in not just heart health but one’s overall health.

“It used to be the food pyramid,” she said. “Now, we’re talking about the ‘food plate.’ We have the plate set up in four sections: fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. The more colorful your plate, the better.

“I try to encourage the kids to try different vegetables and fruits,” Johnson added.

Throughout the month, Johnson continues to stress the importance of the heart and its health.

But it’s not all a bunch of lectures. Johnson and assistant P.E. teacher Dave Morgan keep the kids jumping throughout the month with different styles and forms of jump roping. The kids do single ropes, double ropes (two people at each end and one or two in the middle) and Chinese jump ropes.

“A lot of it’s just about having fun,” Johnson said. “If they’re having fun, then they’ll keep doing it. And that’s one of the reasons we try to get them involved in healthy activities now, at this age, because if they start now, it’s more likely they’ll stay active the rest of their lives.”

Even for adults, a jump rope offers a fun, effective way to get healthy. Plus, it’s extremely portable so you don’t ever have to be far from it.

And if you have any questions about jumping rope, stop by Johnson’s P.E. class, where you’ll find a bunch of smiling and laughing kids ready to show you the ropes.

daniel@thepicayune.com