THORNWOOD N.Y. -- February is American Heart Month, and throughout these four weeks, Westlake Middle School in Thornwood is participating in the American Heart Association’s Hoops for Heart program.
The school-wide initiative helps raise funds and increase student awareness about heart disease. Soliciting donations online is still rather new, but the objective is still the same: to raise money to help prevent heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for men and women according to the AHA.
The school-wide goal is to raise $2,500 during the month of February through students' online accounts.
“Every little bit helps,” said physical education teacher Tina Nicodemo.
The highlight of the fundraising drive is a two-day “Hoops” activity where students in physical education classes learn about the benefits of staying heart healthy through exercising and eating right.
During Hoops for Heart, students ran through different basketball stations, playing three-on-three, around the world, knockout and other activities to encourage exercise. Healthy snacks of apples, pretzels and water were provided by the middle school PTA.
“The whole point of the event is to promote that the more physically active you are, the less chance you have of getting heart disease,” said Nicodemo.
Middle schoolers could also fill out paper hearts to hang on the gym walls. The hearts honor friends or relatives who have been affected by heart disease.
Sixth-grader Jack Cheverko taped an orange heart to the wall saying he was remembering his grandmother who had heart disease. He said he was participating in Hoops for Heart for her.
Throughout the month of February, the morning announcements contain messages about nutrition, physical activity and heart-related information to promote the benefits of good health.
“We hope students will take something from it,” said Nicodemo.
Last year the school raised $1,850, but Nicodemo said they hope to top that this year. With two weeks left for donations and $1,300 raised so far, students are still hoping they can hit their goal.
The drive will end March 1.