‘Jump With Jill’ rocks with nutrition in mind

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published December 4, 2013

TROY — It’s rock ‘n’ roll meets a healthy way of life.

On Nov. 21, the students who attend Susick Elementary School learned several healthy eating tips with a visit from “Jump With Jill.”

“Jump With Jill” — created by Jill Jayne — is a live show that mixes nutrition education and a full-on rock ‘n’ roll concert. The show uses the same tools used to sell junk food, but instead of pushing unhealthy meals, Jump With Jill encourages healthy food choices and physical activity.

Susick, part of Warren Consolidated Schools, was among several local schools that won a free performance as part of a statewide contest the United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

English Language Learner second-grade students Jameel Jameel, Sarah Krikor, Christian Tasarta, Joseph Delly, Kennett Aguilar-Zaldana and Emanuel Ohrani  produced and submitted a video for the contest. They made the video under the guidance of teacher Barbara Gottschalk and told Jill why “Jump With Jill” would be ideal for the school.

“On video, they talked to Jill,” Gottschalk said. “They wrote the script and practiced it over and over again.”

“We are proud of our students who submitted the video to show how Susick incorporates healthy eating and living into our educational agenda,” Susick Principal Patrick Cavanaugh said in a prepared statement.

The show was presented to the entire student body. The school gym looked like a rock concert, with Garden City native Hailey McDonell performing in the role as Jill. The songs were catchy, the dance moves were upbeat, and the clothing was hip.

The benefits of eating fruits and vegetables highlighted the concert, backed by a disc jockey and various musical instruments. Through song and high-energy dances, the importance of physical activity and drinking water also were stressed.

“It sets a really good message and a chance for the students to do something really relevant,” Gottschalk said. “The students liked it. The messages were positive, and the music stuck with the kids. It was a good show.”

In an effort to remind the students to keep eating healthy after the concert lights went down, Gottschalk said the students signed a pledge to try new vegetables.

“It’s hard to (eat healthy,)” Gottschalk said. “We are so bombarded with all the messages of the junk.”

In addition to the live show, “Jump with Jill” educational materials, including CDs, posters and nutrition education materials, were distributed at Susick.

The show started out as a free street show in New York City’s Central Park in 2006. “Jump With Jill,” which includes several cast members, has traveled throughout the United States and Europe.

“Jump with Jill,” also supports a healthier cafeteria menu, has been performed live 1,000 times for 250,000 kids in the United States and has been featured on children’s television networks, Sprout and the Public Broadcasting Service.

According to a Fitzgerald Public Schools press release, “Jump With Jill” visited the district’s Mound Park Elementary School Nov. 20.

For more information on “Jump With Jill,” visit www.jumpwithjill.com.