Hop to it


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Preschoolers jumped up and down at MAC Preschool and Childcare to help raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Preschoolers jump to help kids with muscular dystrophy

For the seventh year on a row, MAC Preschool and Childcare in West Linn held a hop-a-thon to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Funds raised will go to MDA's research and services programs, including MDA summer camp for kids.

Endorsed by the National Child Care Association, mdahops.org, 'MDA's hop-a-thon is designed for children ages 2 through 7. It's so named because children recruit family members, friends and neighbors to pledge a dollar amount for each hop they can complete in two minutes (or a flat amount for the whole time).

The hop-a-thon was more than just a fundraising program, it was also a five-day disability awareness program that emphasized three core values: awareness, acceptance and assistance. It emphasized similarities as well as uniqueness in everyone.

'We take the material from MDA and talk with the children about how people are different,' said Michelle Kuepker, director of MAC Preschool and Childcare. 'Some people walk differently or speak differently, and it's OK.'

To get this message across, hop-a-thon materials (which are free to participating schools) include lesson plans, art projects, stories and activities that are geared to the understanding of young preschoolers.

As part of the daily lesson plan, the preschoolers practiced hopping during the week leading up to the final hop event, which took place on June 8.

An important part of the program was emphasizing helping others, from simple acts of friendship, to improving wheelchair accessibility, to raising money to help fight muscle diseases.

Prior to the hop event, children brought home envelopes with information about MDA, and families began gathering pledges for each child's one-minute hop.

Children usually hop 50 to 100 times in one minute.

Children are 'happy that they can hop,' Kuepker said. 'We tell them that when they hop, they're helping boys and girls whose legs don't work as well as theirs do. They can't hop, so we are hopping for them.'

At the end of the event, students were presented with 'MDA Hopper' stickers and certificates.

'The students seem to get a lot out of the hop-a-thon', said Kuepker. 'It is important to teach children that we all can and should help others. Even though it's the parents who are donating the money, in some small way we are planting seeds about sharing and trying to help our friend or our neighbor.'