March 16, 2011

Hearts pumped with every rope jumped

Jaimeo Rojas, a third-grader at South Elementary School, skipped
 rope as part of the school’s annual Jump-athon.The event is part of the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for the Heart initiative.
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- Some skipped, some stretched and others simply sashayed.
As upbeat oldies tunes blasted from the speakers, the gymnasium at South Elementary School was a blur of motion last week, with the sound of jump ropes and hula-hoops tapping in cadence upon the wooden floor, keeping time to the music like the beating of many small hearts.
 Students throughout the school participated in the annual Jumpathon held this week, hosted by the school’s jump rope team, “The Hip-Hoppin’ Hawks,” to benefit the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for the Heart program. 

Held annually, Jump Rope for the Heart asks elementary school students to jump rope in order to raise funds for the American Heart Association. It’s a win-win situation: Statistics suggest that regular period of physical activity can improve health, academic prowess and behavior in a school setting. 
In Londonderry, the popular fundraiser culminated with the March 15 Jumpathon. 
The cause hit close to home this year when students learned that one of their school’s student teachers, Katie Huss, underwent open heart surgery as an infant. 
“You don’t plan on things like that happening, ever,” physical education teacher Scott Lohnes told his students as he helped share Huss’ story. “Funds raised help people in the community learn how to avoid heart disease and stroke and also assists with local patient care. In turn, local schools qualify for gift certificates for free physical education equipment based on the amount raised, and students will qualify for individual thank-you gifts based on the donations they collect. 
In the days leading up to this week’s event, students were given fundraising envelopes to take home with them, and all were encouraged to give what they could to assist the cause. 
“Even those that can’t afford to give, though, even if they just come in and jump today, they’re still helping out a lot,” Lohnes said on Tuesday. 
Though the fundraising portion was voluntary, all of the school’s students got in on the jumping. Some skipped along with their teachers, others hopped along with their friends and classmates, while others flew solo with colorful hula-hoops, from simply skipping solo to more complicated maneuvers attempted by the Hip-Hoppin’ Hawks. 
“We just ask them to keep on moving, to keep on jumping,” Lohnes said. “That’s the whole idea.” 

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