CAMP ZAMA, Japan (April 9, 2012) -- Students at Arnn Elementary School raised money for children suffering from heart illnesses and also promoted the benefits of healthy living during a "Jump Rope for Heart" event at their school, April 3 and 5, here.

Jump Rope for Heart is a nationwide fundraising program sponsored by the American Heart Association and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, which promotes physical activity, heart-healthy living, and community service to children.

The funds raised by the Arnn students, which was more than $4,200, will be used for heart research and treatments. This marked the school's first time to participate in the program.

"This builds awareness and sense of community service and encourages our kids to help other kids," said Robert Deverick, the physical education teacher at Arnn. "This is also an opportunity to educate them on what it takes to have a healthy heart -- and jumping rope is a great way to stay healthy; it's inexpensive and easy to do in anywhere."

All Arnn students, from preschool through sixth grade, were eligible to participate in the program. The students began raising money in a variety of ways, two weeks prior to the start of the event. Some created a personal web page through the AHA website. They were then able to send an e-mail with a link to the page to their family and friends, or via social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

During the event, some jump rope contests were held for the students to include the most consecutive jumps, the longest time jumping rope, and technique variety. Jump ropes were given to the winner of each category. On April 5, more than 30 Japanese elementary students also joined the program.

"Staying active is very important," said Deverick. "I host a P.E. club after school and promote physical education to [help students] avoid issues such as obesity and high blood pressure, heart issues and diabetes. The obesity rate is rising very rapidly among kids. It's a shame, because that can be avoided so easily just by playing and having a good time on the playground."

The contest winners at Arnn's Jump Rope for Heart event were:

Longest Time Jumping Rope: Fifth-grader Jeremiah Stewart, 4 minutes, 7 seconds
Most Consecutive Jumps: Sixth-grader Jacob Ritter, 452 jumps
Most Tricks in One minute: Fifth-grader Alex Morris, 11 tricks