Nearly 1,000 students from the San Luis Obispo area joined about 87,000 other participants across California in simultaneously jumping rope in an effort to break the world record for “Most People Jumping/Skipping at the Same Time” on Feb. 1. Two Cal Poly seniors organized four schools from the San Luis Obispo area as part of their honors senior project.
Iliana Pruneda and Meghan Lord, both kinesiology seniors, helped the American Heart Association (AHA) and California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD) to promote healthy lifestyles in children while trying to break the Guinness World Record. The previous record was set in Australia in May 2008 with 59,000 jumpers. On top of that, participants had to complete three minutes of “solid jumping” between 9 and 9:10 a.m.
At this time, the record has unofficially been broken (the Guinness Book of World Records staff will review the event through video, photo and written records to confirm), with roughly 88,000 students, parents and teachers jumping rope across California. Each jumper paid one dollar to participate, resulting in about $88,000 going to the research branch of American Heart Association. The schools in San Luis Obispo that participated were El Camino Junior High, Fesler Junior High, Pacheco Elementary and Los Osos Middle School.
“Everyone was happy and having a great time,” Pruneda said, who was at Pacheco Elementary (about 200 participants) in San Luis Obispo. “They were all so excited to be part of this big event to potentially break a world record.”
Lord, who ran the jump at El Camino Junior High in Santa Maria (614 jumpers, the largest jumping site in Southern California), said that it was exciting, but very stressful. Participants could not stop jumping for more than 10 seconds at a time or they would be disqualified.
“It all happened very fast,” Lord said. “People were saying the three minutes of required jumping went by without them realizing. It was the longest three minutes of my life. Anything could go wrong. Keeping the kids motivated and on task, that was kind of hard.”
Pruneda and Lord started working on the project during finals week of fall quarter but said they didn’t get into full swing until after winter break because all the schools were closed.
“We literally had six weeks to get the Central Coast started and on board,” Pruneda said. “It was quite a fiasco.”
Under the guidance of CAHPERD, the American Heart Association and their senior project adviser, Kevin Taylor, a kinesiology professor, the students made phone calls, sent e-mails and secured sponsors. Jamba Juice was the corporate sponsor for the event and donated a free smoothie to every participant in the area. This was about a $3,000 donation, Pruneda said.
Taylor, as part of his advising role, dressed up in a Jamba Juice promotional banana suit at Pacheco and demonstrated jump-roping technique for participants who hadn’t jumped rope before. He said that the girls have worked hard and met expectations for their project so far.
“They’re not quite finished yet,” he said. “One (component) of the (senior project) is to reflect upon the experience. We’re looking into possibilities for a public presentation. But once they’re done with that, I will be enthusiastically saying that they have fully met my expectations.”
Mark Grosz, a physical education teacher at El Camino and previously a part-time lecturer at Cal Poly, worked with Pruneda and Lord to get El Camino on board.
“They were very professional and did a great job of working with the community,” Grosz said. “It was really neat for me because of the fact that my whole school bought in. The principal, the vice principal and 30 of the faculty participated. The mayor (of Santa Maria) was even here.”
The mayor of Santa Maria was not the only outsider t0 participate. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped with students in Sacramento, troops jumped in Iraq as did units from the National Guard and Coast Guard, Pruneda said.
Pruneda said that the record will be a good memory for the students and that it hopefully directs them toward a healthy lifestyle in the future.
“For us as kinesiologists, it’s super important to get these kids learning and experiencing physical activity and fun at the same time and draw the connection,” she said. “It’s fun to be healthy. That’s what we want to show them.”