Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

October 30, 2011

Students raise heart disease awareness

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — Elementary students in the Glasgow Independent and Barren County school systems will get a taste of their respective high schools’ rivalry in an inter-district competition to raise awareness and funds for heart disease.

Students at the nine elementary schools will be collecting plastic bottle caps and aluminum can tabs starting Monday through Nov. 9, as part of the community events leading up to the Barren County Heart Walk on Nov. 12 at Beaver Trail Park. Candy Wethington, chairman of this year’s Heart Walk committee, said the bottle cap drive is one of several ways the Heart Walk committee is trying to make the annual fundraiser for the American Heart Association more than just one day.

“Most people think of (the Heart Walk) as just a one-day event for just a few hours … and we’re trying to kind of change that perception and get more involvement in the community,” Wethington said.

The Heart Walk has lost momentum in recent years, Wethington said, and the committee this year decided it was time to rejuvenate the event and remind the community how important it is to understand the risks and impacts of heart disease.

“We’re just trying to get people fired up about it,” Wethington said.

While the caps and tabs that are collected will be turned in to a recycling facility in return for money, Wethington said the competition for the elementary school students really isn’t about the money. She’s not even sure the items collected will bring in a significant amount of money. But by getting the children involved and creating an event that lasts more than just a week, Wethington said she is hoping it will have a significant impact on the community’s awareness of heart disease and interest in the Heart Walk.

“It’s more about the interest it will spark than the dollars,” Wethington said. “Because if you can spark the interest in just one person, that ‘Gosh, maybe I should go out and exercise and eat right,’ than that’s the important part.”

Containers will be at South Green, Highland, Eastern, North Jackson, Red Cross, Park City, Hiseville, Temple Hill and Austin Tracy elementaries for the collection of the caps and tabs, and Wethington will pick up the items and keep track of which district collects the most. With so many more schools in the Barren County district, Wethington said she really wants to get the Glasgow students excited about it.

“We’re gonna have to get those Scotties fired up,” Wethington said.

For North Jackson principal Anthony Frazier, the competition is not the focus. Heart disease is an area of study in the children’s physical education classes, and he knows that the Heart Walk is a worthy health awareness event.

“We want to do whatever is best for our kids and whatever we can do to promote health awareness,” Frazier said.

His school is concentrating on encouraging the students to bring in as many as they can, without thinking about the other Barren or Glasgow schools, Frazier said. North Jackson generally has an ongoing tab collection throughout the school year, because the items are often used in fundraisers and the school values recycling, the principal said. This is the first time the school has participated in an activity for the Heart Walk, and Frazier said he is confident his school will do well.

“This is a wonderful staff and a wonderful group of students,” Frazier said. “They’ll do a wonderful job promoting it and getting it out among the community.”

Wethington would love to extend the competition outside of the school districts and into the community, she said. RR Donnelley and Citizens First banks will also serve as collection sites, where employees and customers can drop off caps and tabs for the district they want to support. Any other business is welcome to participate as well, Wethington said, and she would love for the whole community to collect the caps and tabs. Wethington will pick up the items from any location that collects them.

The school district that collects the most tabs and caps will be awarded with a trophy from Mayor Rhonda Trautman, which will be presented at the Heart Walk.

Along with the bottle cap and aluminum can tab competition in the schools, other events leading up to the Heart Walk will include proceeds nights at various restaurants, where a portion of the evening’s profits will be donated to the American Heart Association, and a dessert tasting, in which ticket proceeds will go to AHA. Merchants throughout the community will also be selling red hearts, in an effort to “paint the town red” for heart disease.

Anyone who wants to donate bottle caps and can tabs or sign up for a Heart Walk team can call Candy Wethington at (270) 659-4005.