What to do on a cold, rainy Saturday?

Students from area elementary schools spent the day staying active indoors during Spectrum Health’s sixth annual Jump Jam, a competitive jump rope competition for third- through fifth-grade students.

More than 500 kids participated in activities that encourage healthy and active lifestyles. In addition to physical fitness, the event fosters teamwork, goal setting and good sportsmanship.


What is Healthy Counts?

The Healthy Counts, a program of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Healthy Weight Center, provides the following reminders for kids and families:

• Eight hours of sleep or more each night

• Seven breakfasts a week

• Six home-cooked meals a week

• Five servings of fruits and vegetables a day

• Four positive self-messages a day

• Three servings of low-fat dairy a day

• Two hours maximum screen time a day

• One hour or more of physical activity a day

• Zero sugary drinks a day

Tina Freese Decker, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Spectrum Health, kicked off the event.

“Spectrum Health is committed to the health of the communities we serve,” she said. “And I am so proud of all of these kids for being focused on health and wellness. It’s really what we should be focusing on as a community.”

Advice she had for the students in attendance?

Stay healthy. Keep exercising. Eat well. And have a lot of fun!

Hundreds of students paraded in with hand-designed signs sporting their school names. Then it was a sea of jump ropes—fluorescent pink, yellow, lime green, orange and purple.

For River City Scholars, it was their first year participating.

Allyse Jones, a third grader at River City, said she was most excited about competing in the 1-2. It’s a specific jump technique where you jump rope as fast as you can, one foot at a time.

“We’re in it to win it!” she exclaimed as she showed off her skills.

Vista Charter competed for the first time, too. Coach Nicole Kline had 27 kids in tow who participated in three different events—the Iron Kid, Single Long Jump and Basic Jump.

“I love being able to see kids get out and stay active,” Kline said. “Jump Jam gives kids an opportunity to excel.

“Jumping rope is an individual activity, and makes kids feel unique and successful.”

Lucie Silver, exercise physiologist, Phoebe Bell, social worker, and Bill Stratbucker, MD, section chief for the Healthy Weight Center at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, handed out information on the Healthy Counts program that promotes healthy activities.

Each kid participating in Jump Jam has been practicing Healthy Counts at school and at home for the past nine weeks in preparation for the event.

Dr. Stratbucker and Silver had some great advice to share.

“Get up and get moving more as a family,” Silver said. “If you move more, it helps with sleep, reduces screen time and gives you added energy. There are many benefits from just trying to move more.”

“One cool thing about the Healthy Counts program is that they are all inter-related,” Dr. Stratbucker said. “The one that we see missed quite frequently is right in the middle—focusing on positive self-messages. Eating healthy, moving more, and several other focus areas of Healthy Counts will ultimately give you a better outlook on life.”

He added that if you’re not sleeping and spend too much time on your screens, you likely don’t feel good about yourself, may not have time for breakfast and likely won’t be as active.

“Activity is good no matter what it is,” Dr. Stratbucker said. “And no matter what size, shape or age you are. Activity is always good.”