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Building the Whole Child – One Jump Rope at a Time

May. 12, 2017

Jump ropes, a common sight on playgrounds and in physical education, are becoming an unlikely symbol of DPS’ core values – and contributing to building the whole child.

For over 20 years, DPS has organized a Jump Rope League, in which hundreds of elementary and middle school students have participated. There are jump rope teams at schools across the district, and the Arts and PE Department hosts an annual jump rope competition to help students improve not only their physical fitness skills, but their emotional wellness skills.

“We have seen an incredible impact on students’ leadership skills, social behavior, cooperation, perseverance and inclusiveness,” said Capucine Chapman, director of the Arts and PE Department. “This long-running program has given rise to quite a few community leaders.”

Cherokee Ronolo-Valdez, a senior and Boettcher Scholarship winner at South High School, participated on Asbury Elementary’s jump rope team as a young student. “I learned to overcome various situations, and to work with many different individuals. My time on the team encouraged me to always be active in my school, whether that be through sports or other activities, and I am beyond grateful for the experience,” said Ronolo-Valdez.

The Arts and PE Department recently hosted a jump rope camp for approximately thirty-five students, who came from all areas of Denver to further their jump roping skills through working with youth mentors from Littleton’s nationally-recognized Jumping Eagles Jump Rope Team. Through this collaboration, DPS students left with confidence, skill acquisition and excitement to share their newly acquired skills with their teammates.

One physical educator shared the story of Rachel*, a shy student in middle school who had no previous experience with school clubs and teams. When her P.E. teacher organized a Jump Rope Club, Rachel signed up and found the experience very rewarding. “She was glowing…she said it was so much fun and she looks forward to the competition.”

Clubs and youth organizations are valuable opportunities for students to learn skills including critical thinking, identity exploration, teamwork, and leadership opportunities. At Brown International Academy, a young Jump Rope Club member said, “I love being a part of the Jump Rope Team. I’m always more excited for school on days when I have jump rope practice.”

Paul Stehle, physical educator and Jump Rope Coach, explained that at Carson Elementary, staff are always looking for ways to get kids moving. “Jumping rope has proven to be a great fit. Since we introduced a morning club, our students have really embraced the activity showing strong interest in the 2-day-a-week program; almost a quarter of our students have signed up,” said Stehle.

Parent Colleen Nyhus knows how strong the impact of clubs and youth organizations. Myhus’ daughter Mikaela*, who is now 16 years old, participated in a Jump Rope Club in elementary school. Nyhus says the experience gave her daughter courage, self-confidence, sportsmanship, teamwork skills and perseverance. Nyhus and her daughter continue to stay connected by being League volunteers.

Providing opportunities for students to participate in physical activity opportunities such as the DPS Jump Rope League builds strength on the inside and on the outside. For more information on how to sign your school up for the DPS Jump Rope League, contact Pam Rogers in the Arts and PE department.

*Some student names changed to protect student privacy.