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Schools Last Updated: Mar 20, 2013 - 10:11:43 AM

DIS students jump up efforts to raise money for American Heart Association
By Jennifer Johnston
Mar 20, 2013 - 10:10:46 AM

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Jump ropers get pretty fancy with such a simple piece of equipment. Some double-dutch. Others double-under. And the ones at Daniel Island School double-down.
You’ve probably never heard of that one. It’s when they take on an amazing cause like the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart campaign, and nearly double the money raised in the previous year. Boom.
DIS Physical Education teacher Alison Gallus has been coordinating this campaign at the school for the past six years, and was admittedly apprehensive about setting a fundraising goal of $10,000. “This was the first year we did not include the fifth grade,” Gallus explains. “So we lost a whole grade level!” In the prior year, when kindergarten through fifth grade participated, the school raised $8,885. So Gallus, her colleagues, and students were thrilled to learn at the end of February’s campaign that the kindergarten through fourth grade jumpers brought in a total of $16,590 in pledges!
The American Heart Association offers “thank you gifts,” from t-shirts to small electronics, to participants who meet certain donation levels. But DIS decided to offer some incentives of its own: “Each class that raised at least $250 received an extra PE period, and the class that raised the most money received a pizza party,” Gallus reports.  “We had 24 classes receive extra PE and Mrs. Donato’s second grade class won the pizza party raising $1,530. One of her students raised $858!”
Gallus suggests that the school’s high rate of response for this campaign is due not only to amazing generosity of the Daniel Island community, but also particularly driven by a story close to home. “We have a teacher here who recently had a baby who will have to have surgery on her heart in April,” shares Gallus. “We talked about her and how the money raised would help someone like her. Most of the students have heard about this child from their older siblings, and we had a lot of families donate in the baby’s honor.”
There’s no question the cause is a worthy one, and that the student’s efforts and community’s contributions are commendable. But do the kids have a real understanding of how the money they raise furthers AHA research and education? Gallus tells us that she has taken time out of her PE classes to discuss the particular heart issues that the organization works toward preventing and curing, and that her students have shared stories with one another about family members affected by stroke or heart attack. Every year the AHA also distributes a video for schools to show in conjunction with Jump Rope for Heart. “This year’s video was very moving and inspiring,” Gallus relates. “It showed regular students who, as babies, had hearts that didn’t work properly and had to have surgery. Now they are all thriving, active individuals. That really helped the students see what the money goes toward and make the connection.”
And what about the kids’ more personal connection between being active (jumping rope) and heart health? Their PE teacher is all over that. “We have a conversation about how we can keep our bodies healthy by exercising at least 60 minutes a day and making good choices when we eat,” Gallus assures. “I told all the students to ‘rethink their drink.’ They all had ‘homework’ to drink only water or milk with dinner.”
It seems that all this heart awareness and quality hydration has made its way to some pretty awesome technique with the rope. Gallus tells us that most of the older students have jumping rope down pat, with a handful that are phenomenal double-dutchers. And she starts them out early: “We work really hard in kindergarten on jumping rope. A few first and second graders can already do the crossover pretty well!”
And anyone who’s ever spent a few minutes turning a rope under their feet knows how it gets that ticker going. Double-time.
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