hildren and parents packed the auditorium at Carver Elementary last Thursday evening for the school’s Jump Rope for Heart family night kickoff celebration. As part of the festivities, a jump-rope demonstration team from St. Benedict’s Episcopal School from Smyrna performed and held a clinic after the show.
The event was designed to provide local families with a fun physical activity while building excitement for Carver and Richmond Hill elementary schools’ Jump Rope for Heart fundraisers the week of Feb. 9.
Students will solicit donations for the American Heart Association as they prepare for next month’s “jump sessions,” during which children take turns jumping rope for specific amounts of time, having pledged to do so in exchange for the monetary contributions they collected.
Last year, the schools raised a combined total of over $56,000, according to Christy Crowley, who has been the Jump Rope for Heart coordinator in Richmond Hill for the past 14 years. Out of over 500 Georgia schools that participated in JRFH, Carver was No. 3 in the state with $37,320. RHES was No. 15 with $19,980.
Crowley said there were between 250 and 300 people at the demonstration Thursday.
“I was excited to see so many families participate in the event, and we’ll definitely plan on having JRFH family nights in the future,” she said.
The demonstration team from Smyrna visited three other schools in Savannah while they were in the area, according to the team’s leader, coach Robin Kish, a physical-education teacher at the school. The squad consists of students in first through seventh grades.
As they jumped rope, St. Benedict’s students incorporated various tricks, which elicited applause and cheers from the crowd. Some of the moves included jumping rope while bouncing on rubber balls and pogo sticks, sharing a jump rope between two or three jumping partners, rotating in and out of multiple crisscrossed jump ropes in sequence, and incorporating exercise and dance moves while jumping rope.
“It’s really fun for kids,” said Karson Evans, a 9-year-old third-grader at Richmond Hill Elementary who attended with his grandmother, Patty Gunderson. Karson said he doesn’t jump rope a lot at home, but plans to now that he’s seen the demonstration. He particularly liked the stunt where one student “jumped” as she sat on the floor and scooted across the room as another student stood, jumping and swinging the rope around the two of them.
Gunderson, owner of Way Station Coffee Co. in Richmond Hill, said the performance brought back memories.
“The one thing that struck me was that jumping rope has never gone out of style,” she said. “I remember as a kid, I used to jump rope all the time. I used to double Dutch at Catholic school in second grade. It’s neat to see how they are using it for a cause.”
Even parents and teachers joined in the fun. Several attempted to jump into and under ropes as demonstrators swung them around. Richmond Hill Elementary School Principal Walt Barnes was among those who gave it a whirl.
The clinic also featured a photo booth; healthy snacks of cheese, fruit and water; and online-registration stations for parents to involve their children in healthy heart-awareness events and fundraising.
“Jump Rope for Heart is a fun event that teaches heart health and promotes community service. Our students will learn jumping skills and the importance of physical activity while raising money to fund lifesaving research and educational programs,” Crowley said.
While promoting entertaining forms of exercise and healthy eating, St. Benedict’s traveling team also raises money to benefit the American Heart Association. According to an article on the school’s website, St. Benedict’s was recognized as the fifth-highest fundraising school for the Jump Rope for Heart program in the state of Georgia by the Georgia Association for Health. It also was recognized as first in fundraising in Cobb County for the Jump Rope for Heart program.
“My commitment to the health and total well-being of young children is at the heart of my dedication to the Jump Rope for Heart program and the American Heart Association,” Kish said in the online article. “This honor was possible because of the support of my Jump Rope for Heart team, our school community and the students at St. Benedict’s. The enthusiasm for this program has led to the formation of a St. Benedict’s student Jump Rope for Heart Demo Team, and I am thrilled to be a voice for this program throughout the entire school year.”