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Jump-rope unit spreads health and wellness among kids

First-grader Erica Kudrik jump-ropes on one foot during a class at Enterprise Elementary last week. - Margo Horner/The Mirror
First-grader Erica Kudrik jump-ropes on one foot during a class at Enterprise Elementary last week.
— image credit: Margo Horner/The Mirror

By MARGO HORNER, The Mirror

Dodgeball can be a painful sport.

Gymnastics requires flexibility.

Most sports require a certain level of agility, strength and coordination.

So what’s an elementary school physical education teacher to do?

Jump-rope, of course.

Tom Wallat, the P.E. teacher at Enterprise Elementary School in Federal Way, has been teaching a jump-roping unit each year since his arrival at the school in 2000.

“It’s obviously an exercise for kids. It can strengthen their heart,” Wallat said. “It meets the needs of all students.”

Wallat’s efforts led to his recent grant of $1,200 from Jump Rope For Heart, a national educational fundraising program sponsored by the American Heart Association. The money was used to purchase jump-ropes, volleyballs, a rhythms video, the “Fitness Skillastics” activities unit, pedometers, fluorescent spots and other physical education equipment.

Wallat was one of 15 teachers to receive the grant nationwide. He hopes families of students will also use the items during school events.

The community at Enterprise Elementary supports Jump Rope For Heart by holding fundraisers each year. Students solicit pledges for how many minutes they jump, and the money raised goes to the American Heart Association. Students who don’t raise money are still allowed to participate in the regular jump-roping sessions.

Students who jump-rope learn valuable social skills and increase their physical fitness, said Stacy Traylor, school counselor at Enterprise.

“Health, wellness and learning how to play as part of a team are foundations for academic success,” Traylor said. “If they think they have no friends and no one likes them, they’re not going to do well in class.”

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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