Gearing up for kids heart challenge

Pictured are Southern Local Elementary fourth-graders Andrew Winter and Makayla Davison. (Submitted photo)

SALINEVILLE — Students at Southern Local Elementary School are jumping and moving to raise money for the American Heart Association during the Kids Heart Challenge this February.

A kickoff assembly is set for Feb. 8 at 2:30 p.m. with Adam Parker, youth marketing director for the AHA, and students in PreK-6 will be collecting donations for the cause. Physical education teacher Kathy Randolph said the fundraiser will be held throughout the month, which fittingly ties with Valentine’s Day and National Heart Month, and a daylong Jump-A-Thon activity will be held March 1 to get kids moving.

“Our goal this year is $4,000,” Randolph said, adding that as much as $6,000 has been raised in the past. “[The Jump-A-Thon] is held during special time and there will be jump ropes, hula hoops, an obstacle course, dancing and limbo. We want to have them moving and tell them what to do to keep their hearts in shape.”

Kids could earn a series of prizes based upon the levels of funding they have contributed and items range from jump ropes and basketballs to T-shirts and wireless headphones. Online donations are also accepted with wristbands and plush toys also being given away as rewards. Randolph and SLES Principal Kristy Sampson are planning another incentive to reach the goal, previously dressing in costumes to entertain the students.

This year’s theme is Heart Heroes and a dress up activity is set for the week of Feb. 25 to March 1, leading up to the Jump-A-Thon. Monday will be Red Out Day for the AHA; Tuesday is “Sock It to Heart Disease,” a crazy sock day; Wednesday is “Be a Heart Hero to Help Stop Heart Disease,” where kids can don shirts depicting their favorite superhero; Thursday is “Put a Lid on Heart Disease,” or hat day; and students will wear workout clothes that Friday to take part in the Jump-A-Thon.

Sampson said the school has received plenty of support from the community and was pleased to help the organization.

“Our community always does a good job supporting us with this event, so we don’t want to make it hardship for them and the kids to participate,” she added. “[The AHA] has always been a good partner.”

The AHA encourages youth to be physically active for at least 60 minutes per day, do a good deed daily and choose water over sugary drinks to stay healthy. For more information or to register online, go to.