Might as Well Jump

UNLV alums make it their goal to fight childhood obesity

When only three kids showed up at Willows Park in Las Vegas for the first Camp Jump last June, UNLV students and camp co-founders Anthony Alegrete and Branden Collinsworth were disappointed, but undeterred. They had a goal and they knew how to get there.

“We want to make it cool for kids to be fit,” Collinsworth says. “Because we’re competing with Facebook and video games, we want to make it one of the coolest experiences that they’ve ever had and something they can take with them the rest of their lives.”

Judging by Camp Jump’s growth—each now averages 125 kids and 30 volunteers, most of whom are physical therapy and sports medicine students from UNLV and Touro University—they’ve succeeded.

The duo formed a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Las Vegas and now hold Camp Jump from 10 a.m. to noon every other Saturday at the Lied Memorial Boys & Girls Clubhouse (2850 S. Lindell Road) and the Pearson Community Center (1625 W. Carey Ave.). The free recreational workout is more than jumping jacks and sit-ups: a guest “celebrity” workout coach highlights each session, emphasizing how exercise helps them in their daily lives. Past celebrities have included professional breakdancer Mr. Wiggles and hip-hop dance crews High Profile and Prodigy. UFC fighter Gilbert “the Hurricane” Yvel introduced the kids to basic grappling moves and self-defense techniques, including how to escape from a choke hold and protect themselves from bullies.

James Brewster Thompson, who holds the world’s record in jump roping, was a recent guest coach. He showcased his talent by using a 6-pound metal chain for a rope, jumping with three people on his back.

The guest coaches introduces kids to new activities, Collinsworth says.

“By keeping the kids engaged with new things all the time, they’re always on their toes, always excited,” he says. “Our goal is that maybe they won’t like BMX, maybe they won’t like MMA, but maybe they will gravitate toward dance. They find out they love it and they stick with it for life and they have something they hold on to and hopefully it keeps them healthy.”

Camp Jump activities

• Not just for kids: Instead of sitting on the sidelines, parents who take their kids to Camp Jump are encouraged to participate in a class taught by a professional nutritionist. While the kids are exercising, parents can learn about healthful recipes, proper nutrition and breaking bad eating habits.

• Cease to be Obese Charity Walk: Camp Jump is holding a 5K charity run/walk and health fair at 8 a.m. April 23 on the UNLV campus. All proceeds go to the nonprofit Jump for Joy Foundation, which uses a portion of the money to fund a scholarship for a college student researching childhood obesity.