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Kingston students jump-start healthier lifestyles

Maci Bushbacher keeps rhythm as she jumps while Dylan Lowry swings the rope Friday at Kingston Elementary School. The students participated in the school's annual Jump Rope for Heart event.
Maci Bushbacher keeps rhythm as she jumps while Dylan Lowry swings the rope Friday at Kingston Elementary School. The students participated in the school's annual Jump Rope for Heart event.

KINGSTON – Tre Lauer has mastered multiple jump-roping techniques. He can complete more than 10 reps of the scissor jump, bell jump and his favorite, the skier jump.

Lauer, a second-grader at Kingston Elementary School, said he has come to enjoy jump-roping thanks to his physical education teacher, Staci Hale.

“I think it’s more fun than they thought it would be,” Hale said of her students.

More than 250 second- and third-graders and their jump ropes took over the Kingston Elementary School gym Friday as part of the school’s seventh annual Jump Rope for Heart event benefitting the American Heart Association. The students participated in several different jump-roping exercises this past week, all leading up to the big day.

Students completed 15 different jump-roping stations in groups of three during a designated P.E. class. The stations involved jumping with short and long ropes, jumping with partners and individual jump-roping exercises.

“I just don’t think they ever realized there’s more than one way to jump rope,” Hale said.

Kelly Wick-Bartesch, youth market director for the American Heart Association in the northwest Chicago area, stopped by the school to watch the children participate in the jump-roping activities. She said the importance of the event is to meld education and athletic activity.

“The real focus is Jump Rope for Heart ... encourages kids to eat healthy and exercise,” she said.

The American Heart Association’s goal is to reduce cardiovascular disease and disabilities by 20 percent by the year 2020, Wick-Bartesch said. The event, which also is a fundraiser for the Heart Association, helps fund heart research.

Hale estimated the students raised about $1,000 in donations for the association, which Wick-Bartesch said most likely will support research at hospitals and institutions in the area, including Northern Illinois University.

One of the challenges the children faced was trying to jump into a swinging rope without losing the rhythm, a task that was an easy feat for second-grader Ellie Logsdon.

“I just know what to do,” she said.

Ellie was one of many students who practiced her jump-roping outside of class to prepare for the event, which Hale said she was glad to hear.

Hale said the best part about jumping rope is that it’s an easy and inexpensive way for the students to stay fit.

“This is something they can do until they’re 80 years old,” she said. “It’s a lifelong skill.”

Heart-Healthy Facts

- Cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills more than 2,150 Americans a day, or one every 40 seconds

- Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

- 21 percent of adults meet federal guidelines for recommended physical activity, while 28 percent of high schoolers meet these guidelines

- Less than 1 percent of adults have an “Ideal Healthy Diet,” while even fewer children meet these guidelines

- About 24 million children are overweight and obese in the U.S.

Source: American Heart Association (

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