PERU Support for the American Heart Association from students at Peru Intermediate School doesnt skip a beat, but it does involve skipping rope. Four-hundred eighty students in third through fifth grade participated in the Jump Rope for Heart program Feb. 12 and Feb. 15 at the schools gymnasiums. This was the third consecutive year students jumped up funds for heart health. Students got involved this year by taking home pledge forms to collect support for the event. In preceding physical education classes, teachers Nancy Thompson, Jim Neyenhouse, Derek Bodette and Kelly Gordon instructed students in jump rope skills, the function of the heart and lungs, the cardiovascular benefits of jump roping, and heart-healthy nutrition. Students also learned the value of reaching out to others through community service by raising money for lifesaving research and education. Many of the students are participating in honor of a loved one with heart disease, Ms. Thompson commented. During the Feb. 15 event, the gymnasium was arranged into eight separate jumping stations the third-grade students rotated between. Stations included challenges such as Double Dutch, jumping a small rope inside a larger one, or jumping rope while jumping on a mini trampoline. The single-speed rope jumping station gave students the opportunity to use a stop watch to determine how many times their partner could jump in 30 seconds. Another station was equipped with hand-held instant pulse rate monitors which students used to measure their heart rates after the jumping activity. The Can You Pogo? station was equipped with pogo sticks purchased with a certificate awarded to the Peru students last year for raising $4,000 dollars for the AHA. One third-grader, Nick Bushey, jumped 155 consecutive jumps on a pogo stick. At the end of the third-graders event, Ms. Thompson addressed their achievement. Thank you for all the hard work youve done for the American Heart Association and the hard work you put in everyday to exercise and eat right and never, ever , Ms. Thompson said, leading up to the students response. Smoke, the third-graders shouted in unison. The students then marched off to lunch with smiles on their faces, satisfied their efforts would make a positive difference in the lives of others. Peru students will not be the only ones in the North Country raising funds for the AHA, though they were the first to do so this year. According to Faith Osborne-Long, AHA regional director, Momot Elementary School, Mooers Elementary School, Rouses Point Elementary School, Westport Central School and Northeastern Clinton Central Middle School will each host Jump Rope for Heart or Hoops for Heart events within the next two weeks. Additional schools are planning to hold events later in the year. The Jump Rope for Heart program has been in existence for approximately 30 years. It was initiated in the late 1970s by a Milwaukee physical education teacher, while the Hoops for Heart program was established in 1992 at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico. Like the Jump Rope for Heart program, it teaches fitness, cardiovascular health and the importance of community service. As of last year, the Jump Rope program earned a total of $500 million dollars for the AHA since its inception. Last year alone, the 658 participating New York schools raised $2,149,711 for the AHA through jumping rope or playing basketball. For more information about either AHA program, contact Ms. Osborne-Long at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 643-9760.