Entering the Jump Rope for Heart programme was a win-win for Havelock North Primary last year. The school was looking for new ways to increase PE participation and regular exercise for the children, while working towards a much-needed upgrade of the school’s sports equipment.
The Heart Foundation’s Jump Rope for Heart programme ticked all the boxes.
The school’s sports and PE development leader, Samantha Newton, was a first-time Jump Rope for Heart coordinator and shares her experience.
“I had a dream run with Jump Rope for Heart last year. The programme provides all the resources you need such as teacher guides and starter packs for the kids. They even provided draft letters to send home so all I had to do was set a date and commit. It couldn’t be a more user-friendly programme.
“The children loved the daily exercise and enjoyed competing for jumps between friends and other classes. The skip-a-thon day became a major school event with streamers, bunting and balloons decorating the turf and Jump Rope for Heart music playing amid an array of skipping ropes and happy children.
“The most important thing is winning the children’s enthusiasm. By the time we’d got to the skip-a-thon, they were 100 per cent engaged and creating a carnival atmosphere really helped harness that excitement and bring the event to life.”
Samantha advised that, as in most sports, skipping is achieved in levels. But by the end of the term, the children had shown a huge improvement, skipping in pairs, on long ropes and in a variety of other ways.
Havelock North Primary encourages their students to be physically active every day; they hold PE lessons (fundamental movement skills or tactics) twice a week as well as the odd class game. Physical activity not only contributes to health and fitness, but also helps shape the movement section of a child’s brain, so is crucial to a child’s overall growth and development.
Good organisation behind executing Jump Rope for Heart was key for the school, so Samantha recruited two colleagues for support. She also ensured all teachers had access to the Jump Rope for Heart resources, prompting them to get their classes outside and skipping.
“The resources are fantastic,” says Samantha. “They are a time-saver, detailed and very child-friendly which is important as the whole school receives copies. They are the first thing I have gone back to as I start to organise the event again this year.”
In 2015, Havelock North Primary raised $5,000 through Jump Rope for Heart, allowing them to fully utilise the 50 per cent rebate on offer to schools.
“We were able to put half the money raised from the programme towards reviving the school’s PE equipment along with the purchase of new gear as well,” says Samantha.
The other half went towards supporting the Heart Foundation’s vital work, fighting heart disease which is New Zealand’s biggest killer.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to encourage other schools to take part. The event encouraged daily fitness for our children and got families together at the skip-a-thon. Even better, the children embraced fundraising for a great cause. This enhances the overall learning experience, as service to their community is put into good practice,” says Samantha.
Joining in together
Keeping kids physically active has never been more important. Currently one in three New Zealand children are either overweight or obese, putting their health at risk.
The Heart Foundation’s Jump Rope for Heart programme teaches and encourages children to keep physically active for their heart health. The programme, now in its 31st year, also educates teachers on the benefits of having a balanced and healthy lifestyle, which they’re able to pass onto their students.
Skipping is heaps of fun but it’s hard work too. It requires concentration, balance and coordination, as well as progressing numeracy, team work and leadership skills.
More than 2.4 million Kiwi children have kept active and fit through Jump Rope for Heart since it was established by the Heart Foundation in 1985. Many of you reading this article will have taken part yourselves.
Let’s keep the skipping movement going in New Zealand while supporting the fight against heart disease. For more information on taking part in Jump Rope for Heart, visit www.jumpropeforheart.org.nz.