It may look like they are having fun, but all that jumping is to help raise money to combat heart disease - the No. 1 killer in the county.
Pupils from 17 Columbia County schools are involved in two American Heart Association programs, Hoops for Heart and Jump Rope for Heart. Last year, Columbia County raised about $50,000 through the two programs.
"Jump for Heart is an educational program in elementary and middle schools, which teaches children awareness of heart disease and how to stay heart-healthy," said Maike DeMaria, the American Heart Association's youth marketing director. "It is a fund-raiser, but they learn at the same time how important exercise is to keep a healthy heart."
In Jump for Heart, children seek donations before they jump rope. The same for Hoops for Heart, except they play basketball.
"The schools make a real event out of it. Greenbrier, for example, does it the whole week during P.E. time," DeMaria said. "The children will be out there asking people to help save lives and educating people about heart disease and stroke."
There also is an educational component to it. Nationally, one out of three children are overweight, 28 percent have above normal blood pressure and 48 percent have high cholesterol. In Columbia County, 35 percent of deaths are caused by heart disease, according to Georgia Health Department statistics.
"Children need to know too how to keep a healthy heart. Eat healthy, exercise and don't smoke are the three key sentences we tell them," DeMaria said.
Columbia County schools that are participating in American Heart Association programs this year:
Hoops for Heart
Lewiston Elementary School, Jan. 22
Evans Middle School, February
Grovetown Middle School, Feb. 17
Harlem Middle School, Feb. 17
Jump Rope for Heart
Bel-Air Elementary School, Feb. 11 and 12
Blue Ridge Elementary School, February
Euchee Creek Elementary School, April
Evans Elementary School, March 3
Greenbrier Elementary School, week of Feb. 23
Grovetown Elementary School, end of February
Lakeside Middle School, March
North Columbia Elementary School, Feb. 27
Riverside Elementary School, Feb. 6
Riverside Middle School, February
South Columbia Elementary School, week of Feb. 2
Stevens Creek Elementary School, Feb. 26
Westmont Elementary School, Feb. 4
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