Leaps and Bounds Summer Program Had Kids Learning the Ropes of Making Exercise Fun

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 21, 2007 | Go to article overview

Leaps and Bounds Summer Program Had Kids Learning the Ropes of Making Exercise Fun


Byline: Catherine Edman

cedman@@dailyherald.com

It's hard enough for kids to learn fitness is fun, part of a daily routine and - heaven forbid - good for them.

But instead of a lecture or running on the spot, imagine a group of youngsters jumping rope, waving their arms while chanting rhyming verses.

Now that's a lesson to remember.

This summer, 415 kids in lower-income housing developments across DuPage County got a taste of the game thanks to the 4-H program and a federal grant.

While it sounds a little chaotic, the rope tossing is in fact structured, as in double Dutch, the jump rope game that uses two ropes spinning in an egg-beater fashion.

Of course, kids had to learn how to skip a single rope first.

"We have a lot of 5-year-olds, and they need a little help with (knowing) when to jump," said Ellen Dassow, a college student and intern with the program.

The University of Illinois Cooperative Extension service works with neighborhood centers each summer, but this year staff decided to mix up their approach a little. They wanted to help kids learn new skills, but they also wanted to target an over-represented group among children who experience obesity.

"We know African American and Latino children are over- represented in that and are challenged even more," explained Christina Foster, a youth development educator with the extension service.

Teaching children that jumping rope is fun could have lasting benefits, she said.

"We wanted something that was research-based and would last all year long," Foster said.

Although the 4-H Foundation grant paid to develop the program, it didn't cover salaries, and that's when DuPage County stepped in, explained Community Services liaison Pat Luster.

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