Jumping rope increases awareness

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NORTH BEND - North Bend Elementary School students practiced their four keys to good health last Thursday afternoon in the school gym by participating in the Jump Rope for Heart fund-raiser. Physical-education teacher Alan Tepper emceed the event, which brought together approximately 128 kids to exercise and raise money for the American Heart Association.

American Heart Association Regional Director Teresa Verdugo said 85 kids participated in the event last year at North Bend Elementary, raising $3,342 for the association.

Tepper said the goal this year was to exceed that amount, but as of press time, the final figures were not available.

Tepper kicked the event off with an explanation that the group's fund-raising by jumping rope benefited the Heart Association, and he outlined the four keys to good health which, coincidentally enough, begins with exercising the heart. He said it is important for kids to learn what type of exercises work the heart, and that sustaining a high heart rate during exercise will keep their hearts healthy.

The second tip he reminded the kids of was to get a good night's sleep.

"The body rebuilds itself at night. That's when your brain starts taking all the messages and starts putting them in the right spots, like rearranging the desktop on your computer," Tepper said.

The third step to a healthy heart is eating the right kinds of foods, but still maintaining a healthy amount of fat.

"The body needs fat up to a point," Tepper said. "But not too much fat," he warned, adding that a diet consisting of fast food all the time is not a good example of healthy fat. Tepper told the gym full of students that although nuts contain fat, they would still be a good alternative, because they contain protein.

His final tip was to say no to drugs and tobacco, a particularly meaningful subject to Tepper, who describes himself as a former smoker, even though he didn't actually smoke cigarettes.

The PE teacher said he was the victim of secondhand smoke from his father who, he said, smoked three packs a day before he died. It is a habit he is constantly reminded of, and warns his students any chance he gets. He also counsels students when they approach him with questions about smoking.

"Can you quit?" is the most frequently asked question. His reply: "Yeah, it's not easy, but that's why there's a whole industry for it."

"If you smoke once, will it hurt you?" students often ask Tepper. He responds: "No, but why bother?"

Fifth-grader Nicole Soroka won the first all-participants jump, which gave every fifth-grader the chance to jump rope until they missed a step for a Backstreet Boys poster. Soroka instead chose the Mia Hamm soccer poster.

Other prizes included DARE items such as "Just Say No" stickers and buttons, brightly colored shoelaces, pencils, erasers and Jump Rope for Heart water bottles.

Kayle Fithian, also a fifth-grader, said she has been jumping rope for several years.

"You just do what you have learned in the past few years," Fithian said. "I've done this ever since I was in kindergarten, so I know a lot."

Fifth-grader Alisha Larion said she likes participating in Jump Rope For Heart because the proceeds go to the American Heart Association.

Verdugo said The American Heart Association also offers a tiered prize incentive for students who raise a certain amount of money. Kids collecting $15 to $29.99 in donations receive a jump rope. Those collecting as much as $200 in donations are eligible for a minibasketball set. The person who collects $1,000 or more in donations receives a portable stereo system.

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