Leaps and Bounds Summer Program Had Kids Learning the Ropes of Making Exercise Fun
Byline: Catherine Edman
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. …