Ask any kid who they think a hero is and they will probably say Batman, Superman or the increasingly popular Ironman, but Mary Russell, a Grade 4 teacher at St. Teresa Catholic School wants kids to believe they can be heroes. “A hero is someone who makes a difference,” said Russell. “I want the kids to know that one child is capable of making a difference in the world.”
Since April, Russell has been travelling around the region to different schools with her skipping demonstration team to promote the Heart and Stroke Jump Rope for Heart.
Encouraging students to participate in their school’s jump rope event and raise money for the charity.
“We go to schools to inspire other children,” said Russell. “When they see our kids doing the tricks, being active, they just want to join in – that’s what it is all about, getting active and raising pledges for the Heart and Stroke foundation.”
Russell’s team, made up of 33 students from Grades 4 to 8, perform a variety of tricks to the delight of their audience.
The reaction from students at A.R. Kaufman Public School, for instance, was deafening when the skipping troupe began their show May. 6. Starting with a partner trick that saw three skippers and only two ropes the students were memorized by the display of talent in front of them.
Combining tricks with partners and long ropes is the key to entertaining students at the schools they visit said Stephanie Richaritsch, a Grade 6 team member.
“We all work hard and try to inspire kids at other schools,” said Richaritsch. “If they see us skipping and having fun they’ll want to do it too.”
It takes skill and commitment from the students on the team, said Russell. Every team member has to have a good sense of balance, endurance and skipping ability.
“We practice twice a week,” said Julia Jajkowska-Sherwood, a Grade 6 team member. “First we learn about speed and timing and then we learn the tricks. It takes a while to learn the tricks, but it’s all for fun.”
Russell hopes that her “ambassadors” are helping to promote a healthy lifestyle to school-aged children.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are, you can make a change,” Russell told the students at A.R. Kaufman School.
One of the most inspiring moments during the skipping presentation comes in the form of Natalie Bean, a Grade 6 student suffering from a heart condition herself. Bean performs in many of the tricks during the show, never losing a step.
“Natalie has had over 25 operations on her heart,” said Russell. “She is a part of our team, and skips with the best of them.”
This is the sixth year Russell has coached the skipping team and is still inspired by her students year after year.
“I have a great group and we all want to encourage children to be active and be aware that they can make a difference in someone else’s life by raising money for charities like the Heart and Stroke.”