What is Jump Rope for Heart?


What is Jump Rope for Heart? When is it? Where does all the money go? I was curious, so I did some research and was surprised by what I found.

Jump Rope for Heart is an event created and organized by the American Heart Association. The event teaches kids the importance of physical activity and healthy eating, how to jump rope, and incentivizes fundraising through prizes.

The event has been around a lot longer than I thought. And, it does a lot of good for the fight against heart disease (the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States). It was pretty interesting to see where all the money goes though…

What Does Jump Rope for Heart Do?

Due to the shocking statistics on heart disease, and all the benefits jumping rope provides for your heart, The American Heart Association created the program “Jump Rope for Heart”. The event, which is primarily tailored to elementary and middle school kids, teaches kids the importance of physical activity and healthy eating, how to jump rope, and incentivizes fundraising through cool prizes.

The event typically last about a month and is usually hosted in February (American Hearth Month). Once registered, the American Heart Association provides schools with a step-by-step guide for organizing the event, a series of classroom-based physical activity plans and resources, jump ropes to use for the event, and information and tools to assist with fundraising.

On the last day of the event schools usually host a “Jump Off Day” where the entire school gathers to finalize the fundraising and give the kids an opportunity to showcase their jump rope skills.

Jump Rope for Heart has made a huge impact on the fight against heart disease with tons of success stories. It’s easily one of the most effective fundraisers in the history of the United States.

How Long Has Jump Rope for Heart Been Around?

Surprisingly, Jump Rope for Heart has been around for over 40 years. The concept was originally created in a small high school gym, at Riverside High School in Milwaukee. Jean Barkow, the high school P.E. teacher was looking for a way to encourage physical activity while creating a sense of community. She accomplished this through the very first jump rope fundraiser, Jump-Rope-a-Thon. The first event included over 200 students and raised more than $2,000. It was so successful that Riverside High School held it again the following year, as did other schools in the area that liked the concept.

A little over a year later, in 1979, the American Heart Association, in partnership with American Alliance for Health, created Jump Rope for Heart and rolled it out across the nation.

Fast forward, nearly 40 years later, Jump Rope for Heart is held at over 35,000 schools and has raised over 1 billion dollars for research towards heart disease – the single largest cause of death amongst men and women in the nation.

Jump Rope for Heart – Where Does the Money Go?

The American Heart Association (AHA), the country’s oldest volunteer-based organization, does a lot of good in the fight against heart disease and stroke. Majority of the money raised from Jump Rope for Heart and other AHA fundraisers, outside of the money used to run the organization, goes to public health education, professional education and training, and research.

They’ve funded more than 4 billion dollars in heart disease and stroke research which is more than any other organization outside of the U.S. government!

Here are some of the other highlights/accomplishments the money raised has gone towards:

  • Reduced Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) mortality by 71.1% (since 1968)
  • Reduced Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) mortality by 51.5% (since 1999)
  • Reduced Stroke mortality by 39.4% (since 1999)
  • Trained around 22 million people in CPR annually
  • Funded a variety of lifesaving advancements, including the Artificial Heart Valve, Cholesterol-Inhibiting Drugs, Heart Transplant Capabilities, and CPR Techniques and Guidelines
  • Funded 13 Nobel Prize winners

In addition to the many great accomplishments the AHA has made, they are also highly rated compared to other non-profits. Charity Navigator, the nations largest and most utilized charity evaluator, ranks the American Heart Association a 88.07 out of 100. The rating evaluates both financial health as well as accountability and transparency.

There’s definitely a lot to be said about the American Heart Association and their Jump Rope for Heart program.

Why Jump Rope for Heart?

Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) are the single most common birth defects in majority of the developed countries and they are the leading cause of birth defect-associated infant illness and death.

Additionally, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease every year in the United States. That’s 1 in every 4 deaths!

If those statistics don’t scare you, they should. Fortunately, with all the support, awareness, and money raised by the American Heart Association, and Jump Rope for Heart, heart disease is on the decline and babies born with Congenital Heart Defects are living longer and healthier lives.

Jump Rope for Heart Event – How to Organize it

For those of you who are looking to organize an event for your school, look no further! There are a few things you’ll need to do to get registered and set your school up for success.

  1. If this is the first Jump Rope for Heart event for your school, you’ll need to first register on the AHA’s website by filling out their registration form. You might first search to see if your school is already registered. (http://american.heart.org/kidsheartchallenge/)
  2. Once registered, the AHA will send you an event kit which will include step-by-step instructions on how to organize the event, along with some information on fundraising and advice for creating your student’s curriculum.
  3. The person coordinating the event will want to set a fundraising goal and begin contacting students and their parents to have them register for the event.
  4. Students can register here (http://american.heart.org/kidsheartchallenge/) by searching for their school and clicking “Sign-up”. Once registered they’re able to create their own profile which will unlock various tools to assist them with fundraising.
  5. Over the course of the event, which typically lasts about 4 weeks, students will learn about heart health, healthy eating, and how to jump rope. This usually occurs in their PE class.
  6. At the end of those 4 weeks, many schools choose to host a “Jump Off Day” where the entire school gathers to complete the fundraising, hand out prizes, and give the children an opportunity to showcase their new jump rope skills.

Jump Rope for Heart App

With the Jump Rope for Heart “Kids Heart Challenge” app you’re able to track your progress towards your fundraising goal, update your story and profile picture, send emails, texts and social media messages, and play games.

Pros:

  • Great concept
  • Easy way to track your goals/progress
  • Message feature makes fundraising easy

Cons:

  • Can be slow to open/use
  • Visually, not the best UI (colors in particular)
  • Arcade games need to be updated (some bugs)
  • Camera/scanner seem to have some bugs

The app is available for download on iTunes and the Google Play store. If you haven’t yet registered online, you can do that through the app which is required before using the app.

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kids-heart-challenge/id548389448?mt=8

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aha_jump.android.communicator&hl=en_US

Jump Rope for Heart Resources and Links

Overview of the American Heart Association

Volunteer’s Guide

To register as a teacher, school, or student

Tips for fundraising

Australia’s Jump Rope for Heart

Canada’s Jump Rope for Heart

Will Holmes

Former personal trainer and athlete, currently working full-time as a health and fitness writer. Getting in shape, losing weight, and eating better, isn't always easy. It helps to have a friend... that's me, I'm the friend! Sincerely, Your biggest fan

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