BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. While Valentines Day and hearts go hand-in-hand, Briarcliff Manors Todd Elementary School students were focused on their literal hearts.
All week, students at the school are participating in the American Heart Associations Jump Rope for Heart program to raise awareness of heart disease and strokes. Todd Elementary School students have coordinated with the American Heart Association for more than 30 years, raising money through student involvement and donations each year.
Second-grader Eliza Aldrich, 7, said shes learned a lot this week.
Other people dont have healthy hearts like we do, Eliza said. Its fun for us to jump rope. I like that we do something to help those that dont have healthy hearts.
Physical education teachers Michelle Hiltsley and Jamie Tranchida help the students learn about heart health with physical activities to boost the students health, activities that focus on heart facts and through visualization tools.
We tell the kids that were trying to make the sad hearts happy because its a way for them to visualize it, Tranchida said. Its become a part of the culture here in Briarcliff and at Todd. Its great that the kids share this with their families so they really can learn about this and keep that with them.
Its a message that seems to have gotten through with the students. Second-grader Ava Mattina, 7, said she loved jumping rope but it wasnt what she liked best about the program.
I like that we help people who have sad hearts feel better, Ava said. I hope they can have happy hearts too.
School officials also ask students to teach their parents about the importance of heart health and to ask family members for their donations in the program. Hiltsley said Briarcliff Manor families have been extremely supportive of the program over the years.
I think our families are really what makes this event so special, Hiltsley said. We have many families who are survivors of heart disease and several families who are active with the AMA. So its nice we have so many in our community who care and that we can do this program to help give back to them as well.
Hiltsley said parents and residents interested in donating or learning more about the program can go to the AHA website and make donations in the name of Todd Elementary Schools.
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