Skills: Children from across the island watch the Comet Skippers perform during a Jump 2B Fit workshop held at Somersfield Academy last week. *Photo by Robyn Bardgett
Skills: Children from across the island watch the Comet Skippers perform during a Jump 2B Fit workshop held at Somersfield Academy last week. *Photo by Robyn Bardgett
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Inside a gymnasium, the scene can only be described as structured chaos.

Around 600 children are attempting to show Texas PE teacher and competitive jump rope team coach Roger Crozier how to do the chicken dance.

Children from across the island, who have been involved with the Jump 2B Fit programme through the Bermuda Heart Foundation, have gathered at the Somersfield Academy gymnasium to work on their skills and routines from both Mr Crozier and the Ohio-based Comet Skippers, a competitive jump rope team, as well as have a little bit of fun.

They will pick up tricks and skills, building on their basic knowledge of jump rope, which has become more than just child’s play.

Six years ago, Bermuda Heart Foundation started Jump 2B Fit and through the hard work and dedication of Jump 2B Fit director Sionna Barton, children in 13 after-school programmes across the island now have the opportunity to learn what makes the sport of jumping rope so addictive.

What has made this children’s game into a sport is the fact that it’s not just about jumping over a rope.

Athleticism

The game has changed to showcase athleticism and skills through a variety of tricks, jumps and tumbles that wouldn’t be too out of place on a gymnastics mat.

But while jumping rope does require fitness and strength, it is an incredibly inclusive sport that has attracted children who may have never seen themselves on the football pitch or running around a track.

“Our main focus is to get all kids to be active. All you have to do is put down your device and find a rope,” says Ms Barton. “You need very little equipment to get started and, if done properly, it can be done across the board by any age group.”

Since taking Jump 2B Fit into the schools, Ms Barton says she has seen a transformation in the fitness levels of the school students.

“It was really eye opening, going around the schools and seeing how unfit our kids are,” she says.

“But I have really watched some of the kids transform. They’ve dropped weight and we have found that active children tend to be more attentive in the classroom.”

While there is a competitive aspect to Jump 2B Fit with the national team, Bermy Bouncers, the programme also caters to just getting children active and having fun.

“The rope is one of the best tools for fitness in kids,” says Ms Barton.

“Ten minutes of jumping rope is the equivalent of a 30 minute run. And the kids have to develop their fitness right from the beginning as you have to be able to jump for 20 seconds without getting winded before we can start with any skills and tricks, so their endurance and stamina have to be there.”

Fitness

Ms Barton says she met with resistance in the beginning –– from both children and their parents.

But eventually, once both could see the benefits of better fitness –– and the fact that she takes a firm stance against using the word can’t –– there has been more willingness to work together.

She also encourages both parents and children to sign a contract to make sure that everyone is giving 100 per cent effort.

“I give them a lot of challenges to do at home, whether it’s beating their best time to see how many jumps they can do during a commercial break while they’re watching TV or challenging their mom or dad to a jumping competition, it helps encourage a healthy lifestyle at home. I help them learn about healthy eating and these lessons spill into home and school. There aren’t just benefits for the jumper but also for their family.”

At the after-school programme, students are introduced to long rope and the focus is more on games. While the Bermy Bouncers competitive team works on techniques and skills.

“The bottom line is to just come out and have fun.”

For more information on the Jump 2B Fit programme, contact Sionna Barton at the Bermuda Heart Foundation on 232-2673.