The things they do would be hard enough without the rope.
Wilmore Elementary students have been jumping, skipping and bouncing to dodge rapidly moving ropes for 22 years — and they have something to show for it. The school unveiled a banner last week celebrating that Wilmore has raised more than $150,000 for the American Heart Association through the Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser since 1991.
But even more than just a fundraiser, jump-roping has become a part of Wilmore Elementary’s natural rhythm in the past two decades.
Physical-education teacher Steve Sandberg has always had a jump-rope unit, but he took it a step further in 1996 and started a jump-rope club, then formed a team to do public performances just a few years later.
“I just had some extra time, and I saw that the kids really enjoyed it,” he said.
The team performed at two separate assemblies Thursday, Feb. 28, for the first through third grades and then for the fourth and fifth grades. The event served as the kickoff for the school’s annual Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser that is part of Wilmore’s physical-education curriculum.
The jump-roping these students do is not just forward and backward and crossing hands. They’re using two parallel ropes or two perpendicular ropes; they’re jumping with their own rope in one hand and a partner’s rope in the other; they’re bouncing on their bottoms over the rope as it swings around the ground.
Sandberg said his students’ talents far surpass any that he ever had.
“I jump-roped a little bit, but I can’t do the skills that they do,” he said. “I verbally tell them how to do it, and once they’ve seen if I have to show them a skill on video, they work at it, and they can get it once they see it.”
This year’s club included about 120 students who met Mondays and Thursdays from October through the second week of January. From that club, Sandberg picked a team of 54 third- through fifth-graders who have performed at halftime of an Asbury University basketball game and have several more performances this spring, including one at Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore.