The Jumper Starz Demo Team from Ben Franklin Elementary in Rochester performed for Kingsland Elementary students last Friday afternoon to help kick off Kingsland’s participation in the Jump Rope For Heart program this year, which began last Thursday. (Tribune photo by Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy)
The Jumper Starz Demo Team from Ben Franklin Elementary in Rochester performed for Kingsland Elementary students last Friday afternoon to help kick off Kingsland’s participation in the Jump Rope For Heart program this year, which began last Thursday. (Tribune photo by Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy)
"This one's called the 'Egg Beater,' and they're also going to do the 'Spiral Staircase,'" said Deb Frederick, leader of Rochester's Ben Franklin Elementary School Jumper Starz Jump Rope Demo Team, addressing the students of Kingsland Elementary School March 16 as the team members dove into jump rope formations that drew applause from the audience.

Kenny Loggins' "Footloose" and calypso artist Harry Belafonte's "Jump in the Line" were the tunes of choice as the jumpers rocked their bodies in time to the music, lining up and weaving in and out of action, jumping with two to three other team members - both alongside and in line with - and cart-wheeling into leaps as their teammates kept the ropes swinging.

The most impressive single jumper's move, according to the students, was made when one of the girls stood on one foot, wrapped her other leg over her left arm and continued jumping rope. Between formations, the Jumper Starz shared information from the American Heart Association, including that "the American Heart Association works to teach kids and adults how to live and have healthy hearts ... exercise is one of three important factors in staying healthy - the other two are eating healthy foods and not using tobacco."

"Cardiovascular disease is one of the top killers in America," read one fourth grader. "One in three people will have cardiovascular disease, but being more active can help protect against heart disease."

According to Frederick, the team travels and performs for fellow elementary students in neighboring school districts, rehearsing twice a week before school to get in the routine of formations.

Frederick added, "I think it's exciting for the audiences to see fancy tricks that they don't often see people do while jumping rope. These kids practice twice a week before school, and even though they practice, they still make mistakes, get hit by the jump ropes, but they get up again and practice even more so that their performances show how much fun it is to get fit."

Jumper Starz team member Maria Kraus said, "I like being on the team because I get to be with friends and it's really fun to jump rope."

Kingsland physical education instructor Andrew Pederson invited the team to Kingsland Elementary School as a kick-off event for its Jump Rope For Heart fundraiser, which began last Thursday.

Following the performance, Pederson explained to his students, "Today we saw what you can do with a jump rope. And if we can do that, we can do better for our hearts and also raise money for kids who may not have as strong hearts as you have - they may have a hole in their heart - and if you participate in Jump Rope For Heart, you'll be doing that. I hope you got ideas to use in class."