At Margaret R. Brown Elementary School, students and teachers not only care about their own health but want other people to be healthy, too.
On Monday, they practiced what they preached by participating in the second Walk for Heart.
For three hours, students walked, ran or jogged around the grassy field area to the south of the school, stopping at several different stations to perform a variety of exercises, from stretches to jumping jacks and even high-stepping it through a ladder obstacle and showing off their dance moves.
To kick it all off, Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman, Seymour High School mascot Sammy the Owl and Brown Principal Tony Hack led students on the first lap.
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Each group of students then spent 45 minutes outside completing as many laps as they could.
The field day also served as a fundraiser for the American Heart Association, bringing in nearly $5,200 to support heart health.
Sharon Wood, physical education teacher at Brown, came up with the idea for the walk as something different than Jump Rope for Heart, which other Seymour elementary schools participate in annually.
“We wanted an event where the students and community of Seymour could work together to have fun, get more exercise and help others at the same time,” she said.
In all, more than 550 students in preschool through fifth grade at Brown participated in Monday’s walk.
The main focus was to help students learn to lead and enjoy a healthier lifestyle, Wood said.
“We have focused on habits such as drinking more water, exercising at least 60 minutes a day, healthy eating habits and reducing sodium in our diets,” she said.
For the past few weeks, students also have been collecting donations for the American Heart Association to help fund lifesaving research and provide programs and services to people with heart conditions such as stroke and heart attack patients.
Those raising the most money were fifth-grader Kaydan Noblitt, who brought in $260; fifth-grader Anna Kute, $250; and second-grader Christian Minns, $175.
“In an effort to help ourselves get healthier, we wanted to help save lives by making donations to the American Heart Association,” Wood said.
Kaydan said he was able to raise a lot of money with help from his mother, who also went to Brown and helped support the cause through Jump Rope for Heart when she was a student there.
“My mom put it on social media,” he said.
Although he didn’t have to raise the money, Kaydan said he felt it was important to do what he could.
“It’s good to help other people,” he said.
He also enjoyed getting to spend time outside running and playing in the nice weather.
“It was really fun,” he said. “I wish we could do it every day.”
Anna said she had to thank her mother for making such a big donation, which helped put her in second place.
“We like to help support things, but I’m not really involved in a lot, and Mom has had to spend money on redoing our house recently, so we both felt like we needed to help out,” Anna said. “She really went above and beyond what I thought she would do.”
Like the other students, Anna said she enjoyed getting to spend part of the day outside running around, but by the time it was time to go back inside, she was worn out.
“That’s a lot of exercise,” she said.
Christian said he never thought he would be one of the top money raisers at the school, but he’s glad all of the money goes to a good cause.
“It could save people’s lives, so it’s important.” he said.
Adult volunteers from 19 community agencies and businesses and 30 Seymour High School athletes were stationed around the field to encourage students throughout the walk and explain the different exercise stations.
Some of the groups represented were Jackson County Emergency Medical Services, Seymour Community School Corp., Read Jackson County, Seymour fire and police departments, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Jackson County Public Library, Jackson County 4-H, Chillicen and JCB.
Wood said she heard a lot of positive feedback from the groups involved.
“These agencies and groups support our families and students, and they love to see the kids in action,” Wood said. “They were so impressed with the work habits, strength and participation from our Brown Bears. It is important for us to have these groups represented at Walk for Heart for community awareness and involvement.”
Although it was a day of outdoor fun, Wood said she hopes the students took away something much more important from the event.
“I hope that students learned to take good care of their heart and body,” she said. “I know that our students feel a sense of pride that they and their school reached out to save lives through our donations to the American Heart Association.”