35 years later, Jump Rope for Heart returns to where it began: MPS’ Riverside High

Retired Riverside physical education chair who created what is now the largest charitable fundraising activity in the world honored; photos and video below

MILWAUKEE – Before it became the largest charitable fundraising activity in the world, raising more than $700 million to fight heart disease and stroke, Jump Rope for Heart started with a simple idea in the mind of a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher.

In 1978, Jean Barkow, the chair of the Physical Education department at MPS’ Riverside high school, was searching for a way to promote physical fitness and provide a fundraising opportunity for her students.140221_Jump_Rope_for_Heart_38

She needed an idea that would appeal to both boys and girls and could be held in a location where children could easily be supervised. Barkow hit on the idea of jump roping and after surveying students at the school, she found 216 students willing to secure monetary pledges from family and friends for each minute they could jump rope.

In its first year at just one single school, what was then “Jump-Rope-Athon” netted $2,032 for the American Heart Association.

Within two years and with a new name, “Jump Rope for Heart” was a national program co-sponsored by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) and the American Heart Association.

What Barkow started in 1978 has had a long lasting impact on the lives of children and families around the world. In its first 30 years, Jump Rope for Heart raised more than $703 million to fight heart disease and stroke while offering millions of school children a very real education in how to maintain good heart health through nutrition and physical activity.

Now, 35 years after she created Jump Rope for Heart, Barkow and her event will be honored by leaders from AAHPERD, American Heart Association and Milwaukee Public Schools as Jump Rope for Heart returns to Riverside, now known as Riverside University High School.

Hundreds of students from Riverside along with MPS’ Fairview and Fernwood Montessori schools took part in a 35th-anniversary event on Friday, February 21 at Riverside.

In a surprise honor, the school’s gymnasium was renamed for Barkow. Video and a photo gallery appear below.

About Milwaukee Public Schools
Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin’s largest school district, is expanding college and career readiness efforts and continuing to implement innovative reforms that give every student the opportunity to succeed. MPS’ high-quality school options for 3-year-olds to high school seniors feature school climates in which positive behavior is reinforced; certified, highly-trained teachers; 21st-century learning technology for students; and curriculum aligned to the rigorous Common Core State Standards, which set a clear, high bar for the topics students must master at each grade level. MPS’ Class of 2013 earned $24 million in scholarships and the district is home to some of the state’s best high schools according to the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report. More MPS news is available at http://mpsmke.com/news.