Just prior to Winter Break, physical education teacher Mark McEachern handed out jump ropes to every student in Kindergarten through Grade 4. The assignment? Get familiar with jumping rope in anticipation of National Heart Month in February!
Mr. McEachern and his students have been raising money and awareness for the American Heart Association during the month of February for more than three decades! Now in his 34th year in support of the organization, Mr. McEachern said he had to make a few adjustments this year because of the way the Lower School cohorts are organized (he meets with a particular grade for the entire week). Nonetheless, he’s been teaching students jump roping skills and educating them on the fact that it’s a heart-healthy activity.
“The students have been practicing jumping rope at recess and when they’re with me in class. Other activities have taken us outside for sled races where they had to pull sleds around a track,” he explained.
When Mr. McEachern isn’t with the students, he prepared video presentations that classroom teachers show during the school day when students need a get-up-and-move break. Last week’s presentation included heart-pumping activities that featured a Super Bowl theme.
This month, Hamden Hall students have thus far raised $3,330 for the American Heart Association (AHA), which in turn supports research, education, and other lifesaving initiatives. Mr. McEachern said his goal is a $5,000 donation to the organization; and with a couple of weeks to go, he may achieve that objective.
Over the past 33 years, Hamden Hall’s Lower School has raised more than $134,000 for the AHA. In return, the organization has supplied the school with gym equipment and other materials.
“I’ve never bought a jump rope in all these years,” he said.
Formerly called Jump Rope for Heart, the AHA program is now titled “The Kids Heart Challenge.” Students kicked off national heart month by watching a video explaining why a healthy lifestyle is important and about the mission of the AHA.
During the final week of February, Mr. McEachern will close out the month-long festivities with an obstacle course that promotes different heart-healthy activities.
This project is near and dear to Mr. McEachern’s heart as is evidenced by the quilt that his wife, Hamden Hall athletic equipment manager Joni McEachern, first created several years ago. The quilt is made of T-shirts from each year’s program.
According to Mr. McEachern, “They give us T-shirts as a thank-you each year with that year’s logo, and Joni adds them to the quilt.”