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Ironton Middle School students learn heart health

The students at Ironton Middle School know a little bit more today about what it takes to have a healthy heart. At least that was the goal of a program from King’s Daughters Medical Center.

The program on Monday stressed the dangers of smoking and drugs and encourages eating well and exercising to increase heart, lung and brain health.

Besides hearing a presentation from Charles Scott, wellness coordinator for cardiac rehabilitation at KDMC, students ran, crawled through tunnels, and jumped hurdles during an obstacle course set up in the school gym.

Volunteers from the hospital do this sort of program at several schools in the area. They have been to Chesapeake, St. Lawrence, and in Boyd, Carter and Greenup counties in Kentucky. The program usually targets elementary students. This is the first time it has been done at Ironton Middle School.

With the middle school age group, the representatives try to stress being active and eating healthful foods.

“It starts with this age group. They’re all playing video games,” said Rachel Cooper, a registered nurse and community health specialist. “We stress the importance of eating vegetables and whole-grain wheat, going to a low-fat diet.

“We also encourage them that they want to be doing exercise.”

Exercising means 30 minutes of aerobic exercises each day, she added.

The students should also avoid fast food.

“You ask for a show of hands and they’re all eating fast food three and four times a week,” Cooper said.

Teacher Christie McMaster had been trying for a couple of years to have the program at the school but scheduling conflicts had gotten in the way. KDMC has been at the school to do other programs such as on first aid and skin cancer.

McMaster said she wanted to have the heart health program to show the students that exercising can be fun.

“They’re doing more TV games,” she said. “Unless they’re involved in sports they’re not getting a lot of outdoors activities. I think if they take an interest as a child instead of waiting until you’re an adult to try to exercise, it stays with them longer.”