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Students get active to raise funds

Elementary school children jump, walk and dance to benefit the American Heart Association

Posted: February 15, 2010 10:25 p.m.
Updated: February 16, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Nigel Shirley, a kindergarten student at Meadows Elementary School, jumps a hurdle during the school's triathlon fundraiser. The school's student council and PTA organized the event.

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Students at Meadows Elementary School combined fitness with fundraising during the school’s inaugural triathlon to support school programs.

Students asked parents, friends and neighbors to sponsor them during the Feb. 4 event as they hurdled through the triathlon events of jump roping, walking laps and doing a dance-a-thon.

With 15 minutes of non-stop activity per station, students knew that raising fitness levels to raise funds for school wasn’t the only part of the agenda.

Students were informed that 10 percent of all proceeds would benefit the American Heart Association, the national voluntary health agency dedicated to reducing cardiovascular disease and strokes.

Students at the school know the importance of getting active for a good cause.

“It’s always fun to jump and dance with my friends, but today it was even more fun because we were helping something good happen,” said fifth-grade student Sarah DeMartini, 10. “I like that we got to help other people and our school in this way.”

The school has always donated to the American Heart Association through the AHA’s annual fundraising program, Jump Rope for Heart.

This is the first year that the school has connected an awareness of health and fitness to school funding projects, which include hopes for updated technology and new physical education equipment for students.

Meadows physical education teacher Beth Judge collaborated with members of the Parent-Teacher Association to form the idea for the newly energized initiative.

“We wanted to create an event where the students could be full participants in something that they could get really excited about,” Judge said. “The responses have been very positive. Our community realizes the effect of the budget cuts on our school and they want to do what they can to preserve our quality programs. This is one way that the students can also feel that they were an active part of making that difference.”

Judge began training students for the triathlon when classes resumed after winter break, leading them through activities such as hurdles, jump bands and Skip Its, as well as long and short jump rope practice.

“We also learned dances together and had a walking club, where we walked laps every week,” Judge said. “I could see that the students were excited about the training and I knew they were ready physically.”

After two weeks of collecting pledges, students raised more than $8,800, with more pledges still anticipated.

One student knows how this kind of fundraising is good for people in more ways than one.

“We have raised a lot of money just by doing something that we do every day,” said fourth-grade student, Karley Hoban, 9. “It taught me that it’s not hard to help people and that you can find simple ways to do it if you really want to.”

Student Delaney Meyer agreed.

“I liked that my school came up with the idea for the triathlon because it was fun, it got everyone to do something for a good cause and it also made a difference because we all did it together,” Meyer said. “It just makes me think, that the more we get the word out and other kids get involved, how many more people could we help?”

The school plans on making the triathlon a yearly event and hopes to jump to new heights in the world of fitness and philanthropy.

“We are constantly emphasizing body and mind,” Judge said. “So through this kind of event, the students felt that they were benefiting themselves, as well as their school and others in need throughout the country. It allows them to feel good on every level.”

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