Rope them all in

19th March 2004 at 00:00
Skipping is reinventing itself as a hip pastime, as Mike Levy reports

It may be very healthy, but is skipping cool enough for 21st-century children? The British Heart Foundation (BHF) certainly thinks so and is running a series of free skipping workshops to encourage teachers to include it in their curriculum.

The BHF believes that the good old skipping rope can help address increasing concerns over the health of the nation's young people.

Chris Brooker, the workshop co-ordinator for the BHF, says: "Our workshops are good fun, there's a lot to learn as many teachers have never skipped since childhood."

His sessions last about two hours and have been attracting up to 30 people at a time. "It's a great way to get kids moving at school and is suitable for all key stages and can be taught to a number of different ages and abilities", he says.

Brooker's workshops for would-be skipping evangelists, emphasise the groovier aspects of an activity that used to be associated with the juniors' playground. Jump Rope (the newer, trendier name for skipping) involves glitzier colourful ropes and teachers can learn myriad new and exciting things to do in class.

One of these is Double Dutch, a fiendish skipping game involving two ropes and lots of jumping teamwork. Brooker also introduces the benefits of skipping in pairs, using single and long ropes.

"The image of skipping has really changed. Children are used to seeing athletes including footballers and boxers using the activity to help get them to peak fitness," says Brooker.

Learning the art of jump rope is easy according to Cheryl McNamee-Brittan, a PE and Schools Sports Co-ordinator for Rhondda Cynon Taff LEA.

"Chris began by outlining the health issues facing young people and how exercise such as skipping can help build healthy hearts. Then came the practical sessions and we couldn't wait to have a go. We learned how to use Jump Rope games to interest both young and older students. We saw how simple it is to incorporate really healthy but fun skipping games and activities into the curriculum," she says, adding that for many it was the most exercise they had had in years.

The workshops will continue to skip around the country and welcome any teacher or youth worker interested. "If you've never skipped before, don't worry the workshops are progressive and inclusive and you will be surprised just how quickly you pick things up," says Brooker who urges us all to take skipping to heart.

For skipping workshops contact Chris Brooker Tel: 01509 262 925Email: c.m.brooker@lboro.ac.uk www.bhf.org.uk

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