JERRY CITY, Ohio - Kids at Elmwood Elementary have a lot to jump about.
The southern Wood County school raised just under $10,000 - the most of any school in northwest Ohio - for the American Heart Association's 2009 Jump Rope for Heart program.
Physical education teacher Melissa Wilson has asked her students to participate in the fund-raiser for 17 years, in part because she thinks jumping rope is a great form of exercise.
"It doesn't take a lot of equipment, and the equipment it does take is not very expensive," she said. "Yet it works so many muscles, and it's proven that jumping can help calm a person and help them focus, so it can help academically too."
Students start phys ed classes by jumping rope for three to five minutes, Ms. Wilson said, although participation in the Jump Rope for Heart program is optional. She said about 200 students took part, just about half of the pupils in kindergarten through fourth grade, by gathering donations for the heart association and taking part in a jump-a-thon in March.
Kelly Frantz, American Heart Association youth market director, said 103 schools in the 15-county northwest Ohio region participated this year, raising $174,900 for research.
After Elmwood Elementary, Hilltop Elementary School in the Millcreek-West Unity school district in Williams County was the second highest fund-raiser. Liberty-Benton Elementary in Hancock County was third.
Ms. Frantz said Perrysburg's Fort Meigs Elementary participated in the Jump Rope for Heart and the Hoops for Heart, centered around basketball, raising more than $13,700 from both.
At Elmwood, Ms. Wilson said Jump Rope for Heart teaches kids about heart health and the community. "Quite a few students jump in memory of a family member," she said. "I think this just makes them look beyond themselves."