What Happened to Jump Rope for Heart?

Nov 05, 2023Matt Hopkins

Jump Rope for Heart was a fundraising and event program that for years was an annual events for elementary and middle schools around the world, with thousands of schools and millions of kids participating. The program raised more than $1.2 billion in the USA from 1978 to 2017.

In the USA, what for many years was known as Jump Rope for Heart has evolved into the Kids Heart Challenge, which still includes jump rope as a component. The Jump Rope for Heart concept is still practiced in many other countries, including:

In the USA, the program is jointly sponsored by the American Heart Association and the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE), who provide support, materials, and fundraising tools for educators interested in putting on a Jump Rope for Heart program.

How Does it Work?

In short, Jump Rope for Heart was designed with four simple goals:

  1. Get kids active (by teaching them to jump rope).
  2. Educate kids about their hearts, and heart-healthy habits.
  3. Raise money for cardiovascular research and outreach programs.
  4. Teach kids the value of community service.

The program did this by involving elementary and middle school kids in a 3-4 week “learn to jump rope” program, usually conducted during PE class, that culminates in a big demonstration or performance open to parents and the community. The gym and school were usually plastered with fun heart health posters and educational materials. Along the way, kids were encouraged to fundraise by asking friends and family for donations that will be sent to the American Heart Association (to support research and education programs).

Registering & Putting on an Event

Kids Heart Challenge / Jump Rope for Heart programs are typically led by PE teachers who register their school to host an event through the American Heart Association website (here’s the school sign up page). Events are often scheduled in February to coincide with American Heart Month, but can be done anytime during the year.

Once the school is registered, the American Heart Association sends over an event kit with everything needed to put on an event, including:

  1. Step-by-step instructions for promoting and organizing the event.
  2. Educational materials and lesson plans to support the 3-4 classroom week teaching unit, as well as materials to put up around the school.
  3. Jump ropes to use in their classrooms.
  4. Fundraising tools, tips, materials and outline.

Once registered, the teacher or coordinator sets a fundraising goal and begins reaching out to students and parents encouraging them to sign up and participate in the event. Every student has the ability to create an online profile and web page to help with fundraising. The secure site makes it easy send emails, share information and take online donations.

The event itself can be big or small, with some teachers doing a simple event during the PE class hour, while others host big after school events with demonstrations, competitions and jump rope routines (usually practiced by students during the preceding 3-4 weeks).

    More Tips

    • Tricks: Here's a good list of tricks to teach the kids (as well as demonstration videos).
    • Sizing: Here's a guide to properly size kids for jump ropes.
    • Jump ropes in your school colors: Beaded jump ropes like this one can be customized with beads that match your school colors.

      About the Author

      Matt Hopkins is a former competitive speed jumper and jump rope coach. Matt has won numerous national championships in speed jumping, and his athletes have won several national speed and freestyle titles and have broken world and national speed records. He also taught middle and elementary school PE in Leavenworth WA for 23 years.


      • Amy Beard

        Good Morning, I am looking for someone to share resources with my Phys. Ed. class. We have 60 students in the class and a whole gym to use for space. Is there anyone local to Lancaster, Pa?

      • Dee

        My teachers forced this on us and made us do jump marathons, even though I and several others were having chest pain. Spent my high school years out of breath, doc at first thought asthma. Turns out I had a heart problem exacerbated by the strenuous exercise and had a heart attack at 20. Maybe have the kids screened for heart issues BEFORE having them participate in this.

      • hi

        they had us pay over 200 for socks

      • Jacob Huggins

        I remember doing Jump Rope for Heart in elementary school in the late 1990s. Now that I’m 32 and am a teacher and about to undergo heart surgery for an aortic valve defect since birth I’d love to get my students involved in this! I just wish they hadn’t changed the name and program. Still love it either way though as it has a great cause.

      • presley

        i wish i could donate

      • Ellie M Landa

        They need to bring this back for the next generation

      • Jasmine James

        i love to jump rope

      • sariyah

        i love to

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