PORT TOWNSEND — Cinderella, dressed in yeller, went upstairs to kiss her feller. How many kisses did she get?
The words may not be PC — politically correct — but the chant, familiar to most baby boomers, is still heard on the Grant Street Elementary School playground.
That’s because parent volunteers Julie Jablonski and Helen Ridder introduced the students to jumping rope to rhymes last year, with the goal of encouraging physical exercise during recess.
Now Jablonski is looking for more volunteers who want to share knowledge of classic childhood games — hopscotch, kickball, four square — as well as help novice jumpers advance their skills.
“If you show kids how to play a game and give them access to equipment, they will play it,” Jablonski said. “Even if you can’t do it anymore, you can teach it.”
A physical fitness advocate, Jablonski is the force behind getting tennis equipment and Quickstart instruction, an easy version of tennis, into gym classes and after-school programs.
She has been showing up at Grant Street Elementary School, 1637 Grant St. in Port Townsend, when the weather turns warmer to pass out jump-ropes and kickballs for morning recess, but she could use help, especially people who could cover the noon to 1 p.m. lunch break once a week.
Lunch time is staggered so that only two or three classes are on the playground at a time, Jablonski said.
She said that students who are engaged in an activity are less likely to be targets of bullying.
“If I can get 20 kids jumping rope, they are not wandering around doing nothing,” Jablonski said.
Fundraiser on Friday
Jablonski also has organized a community fundraiser with the help of the Port Townsend Athletic Club to raise money for more portable equipment and playground improvements.
Called a “Jump-A-Thon,” it will be this Friday from 11:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the YMCA gym at Mountain View Commons, 1925 Blaine St., Port Townsend.
The goal is to raise matching funds for a grant that will pay for portable soccer goals, striping for four square, Quickstart tennis and basketball as well as get the playing field in shape for pickup games of kickball or baseball.
“We want a group of kids to be playing four square there, shooting soccer goals over there and playing basketball here,” Jablonski said, pointing to the area on and around the paved play area.
Grant Street students will participate by jumping rope during gym and music periods at their school. They will have 20 minutes to jump with the support of pledges from family members and friends.
The Grant Street Parent-Teachers Association will award an iPod Shuffle music player to the student who collects the most donations, Jablonski said.
The community Jump-A-Thon at Mountain View Commons is open to all ages.
Participants are asked to donate $5 or more, and are eligible for door prizes, including a one-month membership in the Port Townsend Athletic Club and gift certificates to local restaurants.
All proceeds from this day of fitness and rope-jumping will go to the PTA to purchase play equipment and pay for field improvements.
Every class at Grant Street Elementary already has its own set of jump-ropes, purchased through a fundraiser Jablonski organized last year.
Two weeks ago, the school received a place to store them — a portable storage unit, formerly used during the relocation of the upper elementary school classes.
Easier for everyone
Now parked next to the paved playground area, it places the jump-ropes, and other equipment where they are used, instead of having to be brought out and returned by students from the main building.
“It’s easier for everyone,” Jablonski said.
At last Friday’s morning recess, a class of third-graders was jumping rope, either singles or “the long rope” held by two people, followed by a class of kindergartners.
Some children are just learning how to enter and exit when jumping the long rope, Jablonski said, but everyone learns how to turn the rope.
“It’s not just jumping, but learning to take a turn,” she said. “That’s a big part of it in the younger grades.”
Others have the basics down and are ready to advance.
Brenna Franklin, 8, knows four chants, including “Bubble Gum” and “Chili Peppers,” but wants to learn how to Double Dutch — jump two ropes circling in opposite directions.
Willow Williams, 8, said she likes to do tricks, and can do a crossover, but would like to learn how to “touch the ground,” one of the directions in “Teddy Bear.”
“I know there are people out there who grew up with these rhymes,” Jablonski said.
Both girls said they jump rope at home, which is one of the goals, Jablonski said.
The playground also is open to the community, and neighborhood kids and families come and use it on weekends, she said.
For more information about the fundraiser, go to www.grantstreetschool.org.
Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter-columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at email@example.com.