What is “Jump Rope for Heart”? How does it work? Who can put on an event? This article is intended as a complete overview of the Jump Rope for Heart program, as well as a guide for getting started putting on an event.
What is It?
Jump Rope For Heart is a fundraising and event program that has become one of THE premier annual events for elementary and middle schools, with thousands of schools and millions of kids participating across the USA every year. The program has raised more than $1.2 billion since its start in 1978. The Jump Rope for Heart concept is also practiced in many other countries, including:
- Australia, where more than 8 million kids have participated since 1983 - Australia Jump Rope for Heart Information.
- New Zealand, where more than 2.4 million kids have participated since 1985 - New Zealand Jump Rope for Heart Information.
- Canada, where more than 955,000 kids across Canada participated during the 2014/15 school year - Canada Jump Rope for Heart Information.
In the USA, the program is jointly sponsored by the American Heart Association and the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE), who provide support, materials, and fundraising tools for educators interested in putting on a Jump Rope for Heart program.
How Does it Work?
In short, Jump Rope for Heart is designed with four simple goals:
- Get kids active (by having them jump rope).
- Educate kids about their hearts, and heart-healthy habits.
- Raise money for cardiovascular research and outreach programs.
- Teach kids the value of community service.
The program does this by involving elementary and middle school kids in a 3-4 week “learn to jump rope” program, usually conducted during PE class, that culminates in a big demonstration or performance open to parents and the community. The gym and school are usually plastered with fun heart health posters and educational materials. Along the way, kids are encouraged to fundraise by asking friends and family for donations that will be sent to the American Heart Association (to support research and education programs).
Registering & Putting on an Event
Jump Rope For Heart programs are typically led by PE teachers who register their school to host an event through the American Heart Association website (here’s the school sign up page). Events are often scheduled in February to coincide with American Heart Month, but can be done anytime during the year.
Once the school is registered, the American Heart Association sends over an event kit with everything needed to put on an event, including:
- Step-by-step instructions for promoting and organizing the event.
- Educational materials and lesson plans to support the 3-4 classroom week teaching unit, as well as materials to put up around the school.
- Jump ropes to use in their classrooms.
- Fundraising tools, tips, materials and outline.
The American Heart Association also arranges for support from an experienced staff person or volunteer who can answer any questions and help set up the event. (The American Heart Association has seven affiliate organizations that cover different geographic regions of the country. So, for example, if you are in Washington state you are supported by the “Western States” affiliate office. Here’s a map of the different affiliate offices.)
Once registered, the teacher or coordinator sets a fundraising goal and begins reaching out to students and parents encouraging them to sign up and participate in the event. Every student has the ability to create an online profile and web page to help with fundraising. The secure site makes it easy send emails, share information and take online donations.
The event itself can be big or small, with some teachers doing a simple event during the PE class hour, while others host big after school events with demonstrations, competitions and jump rope routines (usually practiced by students during the preceding 3-4 weeks).
- Complete Program Guide: A 24 page guide to putting on your own Jump Rope for Heart event.
- Event Resources: A complete list of resources available for planning a Jump Rope for Heart, as well as a basic timeline.
- Teacher’s Outline: Here’s an event/curriculum outline developed by a teacher who does the program every year.
- Testimonials & Ideas: A testimonials and ideas outline from schools and teachers who have put on events.
- Fundraising ropes: Another effective fundraising idea to pair with a Jump Rope for Heart event is a jump rope sale. A simple licorice rope can be purchased in bulk for as low as $1.44 each and sold at the event for $5 or more.
- Tricks: Here's a good list of tricks to teach the kids (as well as demonstration videos).
- Sizing: Here's a guide to properly size kids for jump ropes.
- Make your own jump ropes: A fun idea to do in class is to actually make your own jump ropes. You can follow a guide like this, or purchase your a kit with everything you need.
- Jump ropes in your school colors: Beaded jump ropes like this one can be customized with beads that match your school colors.
- Phone: (877) 824-8531 (answered right away when call during business hours)
- Shape America Jump Rope for Heart - Website
- AHA Jump Rope for Heart - Website
- Jump Rope for Heart - on Facebook
About the Author
Matt Hopkins is a former competitive speed jumper and jump rope coach. Matt has won numerous national championships in speed jumping, and his athletes have won several national speed and freestyle titles and have broken world and national speed records. He also taught middle and elementary school PE in Leavenworth WA for 23 years.