??Trinidad & Tobago Alliance for Sport and Physical Education (TTASPE) Facilitator, Shaunna Thomas (centre) and some of this island’s primary school physical education teachers as they took part in the Jump Rope for Heart??teachers training workshop today at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium.
(C. Pitt/BGIS)

Some 26 physical education teachers will, over the next two days, be trained in the Jump Rope for Heart programme.

The workshop, which was held at the Wildey Gymnasium today, Wednesday, April 20 and will continue on Thursday, April 21, was organised by the National Task Force on Physical Activity and Exercise and the Ministry of Health. It is being facilitated by the Trinidad and Tobago Alliance for Physical Education and Sports (TTASPE).

Jump Rope For Heart is advocated by teachers and community volunteers and combines the simple, low-cost, physical activity of jumping rope with an integrated curriculum approach that infuses health information with other subject areas.??

At the opening ceremony, Chairperson of the Task Force, Mara Thompson, deemed the workshop as timely, based on the many competing and often sedentary activities that consumed many children’s attention today, as well as declining levels of physical activity.

"The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention note that in the USA physical activity levels have decreased since the 1980’s, while the number of overweight children has doubled.?? While some of us may remember childhood days when skipping was a prime activity during summer vacations, the fact is that there are many children now who do not even have the foggiest notion of how to hold a skipping rope.?? My hope is that this programme will begin to revitalise an interest in skipping among the general body of primary school children in Barbados," Mrs. Thompson remarked.

She explained that the activity, however, also had the potential for long-term and widespread benefit, "…largely because skipping is one of the most easily accessible forms of activity and can be enjoyed at the relatively low cost of obtaining a skipping rope and a small amount of open space.?? As children are often able to act effectively as change agents, my hope is that the students who become beneficiaries of this programme will influence not just their parents, peers and relatives, but also that the activity will spread to entire communities."

Education Officer for Physical Education in the Ministry of Education, ??Andrea Nicholls, also expressed the Ministry of Education’s pleasure in the Health Ministry’s efforts to create a "child-catered…well-crafted physical education programme".?? She pointed out that research showed that physical education (PE) contributed to all-round development.

"In addition, the PE programme should encourage involvement in physical activity for life – not just for school days – for jump rope or skipping is an activity in which an individual can be involved and enjoy for a long time.?? Skipping has tremendous value as a cardiovascular activity and I am sure this has been recognised by the pioneers of this programme," Ms. Nicholls noted.

She added:?? "This is a low-cost activity – music to our ears – which can be performed indoors or outdoors, it is safe, improves rhythm, speed, power, timing and balance.?? And, most of all from a child’s perspective – it is fun."

Facilitator of the course and Sport for Development Officer at the TTASPE with responsibility for the jump rope programme, Shaunna Thomas, explained that the general objectives of the programme were to encourage children to be physically active and to promote healthy lifestyles.?? "The idea is to hopefully prevent Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases … The children tend to have a lot of fun and teachers who are committed to the programme see the value of having it within their school environment," she asserted.

Jump Rope for Heart originated in the United States and was implemented in Trinidad & Tobago in 2004, where over 120 schools are involved.?? Since 2005, five more islands have come on board, with 45 schools running the initiative in St. Lucia; three in Grenada; and 10 in Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Also present at the opening of the workshop was Assistant Director at the National Sports Council, Mona Alleyne and President of TTASPE, Andre Collins.


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