BRUNSWICK — The auditorium of St. John’s Catholic School was abuzz Tuesday morning as middle school students jumped rope, skipped and ran for a good cause.

The occasion was a Jump Rope for Heart event, a school-based fundraiser to benefit the American Heart Association, organized entirely by sixth-graders with the guidance of their science teacher, Tiffany Jones. 

Jones said the students were first inspired to put on the event while completing their unit on functions of the human heart.

“We had Catholic Schools Week, which is a week we kind of think about what we can do for others and how we can give back to the community,” Jones said. “And the sixth grade kind of put it all together and said let’s find something we can give back to that has to do with what we’re learning.”

Jones said her class then looked online, and came across the American Heart Association’s website, which details how schools can put on a Jump Rope for Heart event. When educators register to hold a fundraiser, the American Heart Association, which sponsors school-based events along with the Society of Health and Physical Educators, provides an event kit.

According to the American Heart Association’s website, proceeds raised from Jump Rope for Heart events go towards helping kids with heart-health issues.

In the case of St. John’s, Jones said the students decided to raise money by receiving pledges for every minute they jumped.

Although students may only have jumped for 30 minutes, Jones said donors’ ability to pledge a small amount of money is part of the appeal.

“We really emphasize that there’s so many fundraisers out there, but this is a fundraiser that’s like, have somebody sponsor you a penny a minute; your little sister could do that,” she said. “Because the other piece of it is about education and the more people we can make aware of heart diseases and how critical your heart is to your body (the better).”

On Wednesday morning, Jones said students had raised approximately $500 for the organization.

To structure the event, students brainstormed jumping activities and narrowed down the list to form six stations. A group of students was assigned to each, and wrote out rules for completing the station that were hung on the wall during the fundraiser.

Stations included double dutch, an obstacle course, regular jump roping, and a skipping-type activity that involved jumping over a beaded rope. A healthy snack station featuring water bottles and clementines was also set up.

Jones said though putting together the Jump Rope For Heart event coincided with the students’ curriculum and the recent Catholic Schools Week, it also lined up with Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month, which is recognized every February. 

She also thinks bringing awareness to heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for women and men in the United States, according to the American Heart Association, is important.

“This is something that’s preventable, so if we can educate people and spread the word that they can do a little exercise (to be) healthy, that’s part of giving back too,” she said. 

Principal Timothy Forti said while the kids were having fun jumping, they were also excited about the idea behind the jumping marathon.

“They’re having fun, but they also get very excited about raising money for good causes,” Forti said. “They love doing that.”

Rachel Kerr, a sixth-grader involved in planning the event, echoed that sentiment.

“I think everyone in the class wants to really help people that are victims of heart disease, because no one deserves to go through that,” she said.

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected]. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente

St. John’s Catholic School teacher Tiffany Jones looks on as students participate in a Jump for Heart event to benefit the American Heart Association Feb. 13. A sixth-grade science class decided to put on the event after being inspired by Catholic Schools Week and learning about the human heart. 

All of St. John’s middle schoolers participated in Jump for Heart, which is one of the school-based fundraisers sponsored by the American Heart Association. As of Wednesday morning, the students had raised approximately $500 for the organization. 

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