Demopolis students learning about, helping fund healthy hearts

Published 11:41 pm Monday, March 18, 2024

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Since 1996, Demopolis Middle School (DMS) has hosted Hoops for Heart, an annual event partnering with the American Heart Association to teach students the importance of developing heart-healthy habits.

On March 13, DMS will present the program at 10 a.m. Along with a presentation on how rewarding and fun physical activity can be, students will participate in raising funds to support cardiovascular research and education, helping save lives in their community and across the nation. 

According to DMS coach and project coordinator Jesse Bell, heart disease is the nation’s No. 1 killer.  

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“Our children are developing significant health issues that can shorten their life expectancy,” Bell said. “Almost a third of U.S. children and adolescents from age two to nineteen are overweight or obese. Children who are obese are more than twice as likely to die before age 55. [Roughly] 61% of children from age nine to 13 aren’t physically active outside of school.”

Bridget Cox-ryan, a DMS administrator, said the program is having a tangible impact on students who participate.

“The biggest difference [we see] in our school since doing Hoops for Heart is that children learn the importance of being physically active and that by participating in physical exercise your heart becomes healthier,” Cox-ryan said.

Bell said the program is designed to increase students’ knowledge of practices and methods to care for the heart. 

“We also desire to honor those in our community who have been affected by heart disease and raise funds to support the American Heart Association’s efforts to build healthier lives,” Bell said.

As part of the fundraising effort, students canvas the community, asking parents and local businesses for donations. The students will also launch a social media campaign to raise funding for the American Heart Association.

Tuesday’s presentation will feature a challenge presented by Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin, Cox-ryan explained.

“Damar is challenging individuals today to stop being a bystander and be a lifesaver,” she said. “Damar is asking, alongside the American Association, that people become knowledgeable about and able to do CPR in order to be able to save a life in the event of an emergency.”

Bell said the school is grateful for the community’s ongoing support. 

“We would like to thank our community and citizens across the country for the support for this important event,” Bell said.

For more information, contact coaches Bell or Keesha Jamison at (334) 289-4242.