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FIGHT AGAINST CHILDHOOD OBESITY AT FOREFRONT OF EVEN 

Jump for Joy foundation sees success in latest promotion of healthy living

A first-year experience class within the UNLV College of Hotel Administration partnered with local non-profit Jump for Joy to host Dunk on Obesity, an event aimed at fighting childhood obesity.

Part of the course’s service learning project, students in Tourism — Hospitality, Academic and Personal Development, or TCA 103 — have been working for the past three weeks organizing the event, along with Jump for Joy co-founder and UNLV senior business major Anthony Alegrete.

“I was actually very surprised with how well everything went, given the short amount of time that we had,” said Landon Shores, a graduate assistant for the hotel college that taught the class.

Students were divided into three groups — marketing, logistics and operations. Each student was assigned a role and Alegrete led them in planning the event.

“I taught them how to completely do an event — from locking it down, to promotions, to everything else,” he said.

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Students in the marketing group contacted administrators at elementary and middle schools in Las Vegas and asked them to give fliers to Physical Education teachers.

Operations students, such as freshman hospitality major Cara Kornegay, organized activities and registered children and parents.

“I love working with little kids and I do think there’s a really bad problem with [childhood] obesity,” she said.

Kornegay set up stations and participated in games and activities with children at the event.

“I love doing stuff like this, and after working this event I know I want to do it more,” she said.

As head of the logistics team, Harley Edwards, a transfer student majoring in hotel management and professional golf management, oversaw much of the project.

“It was a lot of work on my part as well as the rest of the students,” he said, “but it is something that I really enjoyed.”

Edwards said that he put in about ten hours of work on the project each week, between working in-class, making calls and running paperwork. Alegrete said that Edwards “dang near took over the whole project.”

“I’m proud to say that these students sometimes work harder than some of my volunteers and people that work with me normally,” Alegrete said. “These kids are super ambitious. They’re on point with everything they do.”

Shores chose Jump for Joy as the organization that his class worked with because he wanted his students to have the experience working with children. The organization is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity by using fun activities to promote a healthy lifestyle among children.

Helen Toodale and her daughters, Roben and Pamela, have been attending Jump for Joy events for almost two years.

“Like a lot of people, we don’t have much money,” she said. “I don’t have money to put my girls in organized sports or dance classes or anything like that.”

She met Alegrete and Collinsworth when they visited her daughters’ school for a family fitness night. They became friends and now Alegrete invites her and her family to every event that they hold.

Toodale said that the classes the organization offers for parents have helped her keep her daughters healthy and that Roben and Pamela love the events that Jump for Joy offers.

“It’s great that they always focus on staying in school, working hard and obeying your parents,” she said.

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Aside from students, volunteers from the community gave their time to help out at the event.

Mike Sims and Robert Smith helped teach children the fundamentals of basketball, such as dribbling, passing, shooting and defensive techniques.

“I think the kids more than anything make us want to volunteer,” said Smith, a former UNLV point guard and NBA player. “We’ve been blessed with the fact that we played basketball at a high level and whenever we get a chance to give back, we try to do it.”

Both Sims and Smith have known Alegrete for several years. Sims has volunteered at three Jump for Joy events so far.

“You can actually see some improvement, because you see the same kids return to the events,” Sims said. “That’s important.”

All of the students and volunteers at the event said that they enjoyed working with the children and helping them play and learn.

“You put a smile on somebody’s face and they put a smile on yours,” Edwards said.

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