By Vicki Bradley,Contributing Writer
Marlborough – As February is Heart Healthy Month, it is the perfect time for the American Heart Association to hold its annual “Jump Rope for Heart” fundraiser. The physical education teachers at Jaworek Elementary School in Marlborough participate in this event annually, and use it as a meaningful way to incorporate heart-healthy lessons into the fun of jumping rope.
For 40 years, physical education teacher Irene Mazmanian has been teaching students the benefits of staying fit.
“Not only does this program raise money for an important cause, it teaches kids a skillset that translates over to other areas of life. Jumping rope develops their timing, physical coordination, and cardiovascular health,” she said.
According to Mazmanian, students at the Jaworek School begin learning the basics of jumping rope in the second grade, and then build on what they'se learned every school year thereafter. By the time the students reach fourth grade, they are capable of performing advanced moves, such as jumping rope while dribbling a basketball, jumping “double dutch” with two jump ropes, and jumping rope in tandem with a partner.
“We teach the advanced jumping techniques that require more than one person so the kids learn camaraderie and team building,” Mazmanian said.
The teachers also teach the students about healthy food choices and the benefits of staying active to keep their hearts healthy, she added.
Jaworek students have participated in the fundraiser for the past 11 years, and have collected over $67,000 for the American Heart Association. The money has funded research and the development of educational materials that teach the importance of staying fit and being heart healthy. For its participation, the school earns gift certificates to use toward much needed physical education equipment, Mazmanian said.