Jessica Aderholt, the school’s physical education teacher and softball coach, said the annual Valentine’s Day program has been ongoing for a number of years. This year approximately 150 elementary students participated in jumping rope and jumping over, through and under hurdles in an obstacle course.
“This is important for our kids to learn that it’s important to help other people that need our help. I think that we all know somebody who has had some sort of heart problem, and this association raises money for that,” Aderholt said Friday afternoon. “We are jump roping, and some of the little ones are doing an obstacle course. We’re just doing things that are healthy for the heart.”
The American Heart Association was established in 1924 by six cardiologists and now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters. According to their website www.heart.org, the organization’s mission is “building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health states that “cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death in the United States and in Alabama. Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Alabama.” The most recent annual report for 2013 ranks Alabama as No. 47 among the states in America’s Health Rankings.
A large majority of heart-related issues within the state are due to obesity and diabetes. Americashealthrankings.org states that “almost 1.2 million adults in Alabama are obese and more than 430,000 adults have diabetes. In the past year, physical inactivity decreased from 32.6 percent to 27.2 percent of adults. There are still more than 960,000 physically inactive adults in the state.”
On Friday, students participated in different exercises depending on their age bracket. The younger students took part in an obstacle course, which consisted of jumping over small hurdles, zigzagging through bright, orange cones and ducking through hula hoops. Older students individually jumped rope and raced one another. Teachers, students and some parents were on hand to witness the day’s program.
“Not only do we raise awareness for the American Heart Association, but we are also incorporating it into a physical education program,” Aderholt said.
The students raised $5,238.53. Each grade raised different amounts that were announced at the event, while three individual winners were also recognized for the money they raised.