The American Heart Association’s (AHA) “Heart Healthy School Award” is a national award given to only one school in the United States. This year’s winner is Coastal Ridge Elementary School in York, Maine and was chose out of 500 nominees nationwide. Coastal Ridge Elementary has participated in the AHA’s Jump Rope For Heart program for the past 30 years. The school staff is dedicated to teaching students the importance of healthy living and community service. The walls of the school’s gymnasium are lined with Jump Rope For Heart banners from previous years, AHA health tip posters, and a moving memory wall created by students with the names of loved ones lost to heart disease.
Their Jump Rope for Heart event is an outstanding example of community and school involvement. The school brings together parents, teachers, and community leaders for a fun-filled day of physical activity and heart-health education. The whole school day is “Jump Rope For Heart Day” in the school. There are no classes. Every classroom revolves into the gym for jumping and learning about heart health. Last year, the school was Maine’s top fundraiser with close to $24,000 raised. This year’s event will take place on Friday, February 16th.
Gary Urey, Youth Market Director for the American Heart Association in Maine, will be presenting this award during the school assembly. The award is presented by the AHA and the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE). SHAPE America is the AHA’s national partner for its Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart school programs. In Maine, 175 schools (and thousands nationwide) participate in these programs with benefits where students:
- Learn the value of community service and become empowered to contribute to their community.
- Join together in helping other kids with special hearts.
- Develop heart-healthy habits while being physically active.
- Acquire jump rope and basketball skills they can use for the rest of their lives.
- Help their school earn gift certificates for free P.E. equipment.
Today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. There are also psychological effects: Obese children are more prone to low self-esteem, negative body image and depression. And excess weight at young ages has been linked to higher and earlier death rates in adulthood.