Students from throughout Brownwood ISD began the 2018 Kids Heart Challenge, formerly Jump Rope for Heart, as part of a citywide effort raising funds for the American Heart Association.

Tuesday America Heart Association Youth Marketing Director Molly Wright made her fourth stop through Brownwood ISD schools, drumming up enthusiasm for the American Heart Association fundraisers with a 3-D film highlighting habits for a healthy heart while also explaining the new fundraising program.

“We do lesson plans and build a healthy website for each school. On that website, schools have lesson plans. We know each school is going to teach jump rope or hoops as part of a basketball unit, but now we have lessons on dance for them — anything,” Wright said.  “It’s not just about jumping rope. That’s not what our program is about. It’s about heart health. Jump roping was just because we know a lot of schools have a jump rope unit. That’s why we wanted to encompass total heart health in anyway. A lot of schools don’t even run it through the P.E. program.”

The program encourages children to maintain healthy heart habits such as avoiding sugar, drinking more water, incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diets and participating in one hour of vigorous activity each day. While earning prizes for ranging from plush toys signifying health heart habits and augmented reality cards, students will also raise money for the American Heart Association.

“We’re not only teaching them about their own heart but how to give back to the community,” Wright said. “Brownwood has always been very supportive. It goes for two and a half weeks here at each school. They can download the app and play games and build a character. As they raise money, they can get prizes – thank you gifts. If they raise $50 they get a T-shirt and a jump rope.”

According to the Center for Disease Control heart disease is the most common factor in deaths. The CDC estimates one in four deaths is the result of heart disease, accounting for 610,000 deaths. Wright said nearly everyone in some form or fashion has been effected by heart disease.

“It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t have someone in their family or a friend that hasn’t been effected by heart disease,” Wright said. “All of the money goes to raising funds to find cures and do research. Almost all schools will have a celebration … Every school is different and they can do whatever they want. We just ask them to have a celebration about learning about the heart and helping others.”

Coggin Intermediate School Physical Education Teacher Eric Green said he is happy to have the program back because it may be their only opportunity for education specifically targeting healthy heart habits.

“It also pushes the fact we are healthy and we want to continue to be healthy,” Green said. “Not everyone can physically do the things [in the program], the activities we take for granted. That’s something I enjoy teaching is ‘don’t take that for granted. Not everybody can do it. It’s kind of privilege.”