In Richfield Elementary, lining the walls of the gym are over a dozen banners, each representing a single fundraiser held for the American Heart Association. Soon, the walls of Bath Elementary School will be covered with banners as well. For two weeks, Third graders scramble to raise money for the American Heart Association. They have the opportunity to win expensive prizes for raising money, but for many of them, it is not about the prizes. Even at just eight or nine years old, these third graders are very aware of the dangers of Heart Disease. They knock on doors, visit their parents’ work, and send out emails to ask for donations to the AHA. At the end of the fundraiser, the winning class received a Subway party, and individual high achieving fundraisers won prizes as valuable as a pair of in-ear headphones.
The Kids Heart Challenge, formerly known as Jump Rope for Heart, is a program established to raise awareness and money towards heart problems. The program is designed for third graders and takes place at the new Bath Elementary school. The Kids Heart Challenge allows for students to raise money for the American Heart Association while learning new jump roping skills and staying physically active. Run by Bath physical education teacher Wade Vantrease, the program has been around for many years.
Although the Kids Heart Challenge has been at Revere for over twenty years, this is the first year the program will take place at Bath Elementary. Prior to the addition of third grade to Bath Elementary school, the program took place at Richfield Elementary. The Kids Heart Challenge works to educate students about heart conditions and how to stay healthy. Bath Elementary Principal Dan Fry further explained the purpose of the program.
“It teaches them about healthy lifestyles, about healthy living, [and] about exercise as well as showing them that they can do something for other people,” Fry said.
Vantrease started helping with the program in 2007. During this time, Vantrease held numerous positions within the district including intervention specialist and classroom teacher. Using his experiences, he was able to change the program in order to benefit the students and raise the most money.
“We decided to make it an event done during the school day, because of the way we did it in the classroom, we were able to make more money,” Vantrease said.
During the program, students learn all about hearts and the American Heart Association. Educating kids at an early age can lead them to living healthy lifestyles. Vantrease explained what the students will discuss and do during their gym class.
“We talk about the biology of the heart, heart rate, lungs and breathing, lowering our blood pressure by working out,” Vantrease said.
The Kids Heart Challenge provides a way for kids, no matter the athletic ability, to exercise and learn a new skill. Fry explained that with a little practice, any student can learn to jump rope.
“Some kids have never jumped rope before. It’s fun to watch them struggle a little bit and then start developing those skills,” Fry said.
During the program, the students are shown a video that encourages them to learn new jump roping techniques and moves to do. The new moves ranged in difficulty and provided a challenge for motivated students to work for. Ryan Arcangeli, a third grader at Bath Elementary, describes what these new moves were like.
“[The moves] were really hard. I could probably do like five of them and there were fourteen of them” Arcangeli said.
Students use this newfound knowledge of heart disease to go out and raise money for the American Heart Association. Unique to many other schools, in Revere The Kids Heart Challenge is only for third graders. Despite only having one grade instead of a whole school participating, Revere does not lack in money raised. This year the grade raised a total of $6,699, and there have been years where they raised as much as $16,000.
“[At times] our third grade has raised more money per person than any other school in the US,” Vantrease said.
At the end of the fundraiser, the students held a jumpathon during their gym class to celebrate the money they raised, and show off their new skills. Participants won many prizes. The entire grade earned a banner to hang up in the gym to signify the money they raised. The winning class, Mr. Schauer’s will receive a Subway party as a prize for being the class that raises the most money. One of his students, Logan Blewitt earned a prize for raising over $1,000, more than any other student. He left that day with prizes ranging from bracelets to earbuds.