NEWHALL KIDS MAKE LEAP TO HEALTHY LIVING : ELEMENTARY CAMPUS HOLDS JUMP-A-THON FUND-RAISER.
Six-year-old Marissa Lachman considers herself a jump-roping pro. After all, she learned how way back when she was 4.
Experience or not, Friday's jump-a-thon at Old Orchard Elementary School just plain pooped her out. But Marissa persevered, after all she was jumping for a good cause - raising money for the American Heart Association's Jump for Heart.
``It's hard, but I want to jump for my heart,'' she said. ``I like it when my heart keeps on beating. Then I know it's getting stronger and stronger.''
The jump-a-thon started Monday in conjunction with the anti-drug Red Ribbon Week. A Heart Association representative kicked off the event with a few lessons.
``We thought we'd combine the whole thing into one week,'' said Kathy Rakness, a teacher and resource specialist at the school in charge of the fund-raiser.
The youngsters collected sponsors during the week, urging family and friends to pledge donations for their time spent jumping.
All week, the children have been learning how to keep their bodies healthy, about their hearts and the importance of exercise, rest, healthful food and avoiding drugs, Rakness said.
``We thought it would be a good idea to start teaching kids at a younger age,'' Rakness said. ``We're teaching them to be aware and build stronger bodies. And we're having fun doing it.''
Emily Smith, 8, sported a green Jump for Heart T-shirt with her Red Ribbon Week ribbon.
``I'm just jumping for my heart and others,'' said Emily, a third-grader at Old Orchard. ``I'm jumping to raise money for people who have bad hearts or heartaches.''
Emily jumped rope forward, backward and on one foot.
``I'm glad I'm helping people,'' she said. ``I know this is a good cause.''
Michael Fructman, 8, jumping rope for the first time, found Friday's event somewhat difficult. ``I'm having a good time but I keep hitting my head,'' Michael said. ``I need a lot of practice.''
Photo: (1--color) Michael Fructman, 8, had a little trou ble getting a handle on jump roping Friday at Old Orchard Elementary School.
(2-3--color) Above, first-grader Samantha Dorosh, 7, quickly jumps rope to music. Right, Marissa Lochman jumps as classmates Imali Bandara and Chris Tarello (with back turned) work the rope during a Jump for Heart fund-raiser to benefit the American Heart Association. The event was scheduled to coincide with the national drug-free Red Ribbon Week.
John Lazar/Special to the Daily News