West Coast Mom

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Jennifer Hood of Jump Gymnastics

Running a successful business while raising three kids under the age of nine is hard work, I think we can all agree. So these parents can probably be excused if when asked about their future goals, the answer is probably more sleep for "more than four hours at a stretch" than Well, "I'd like to revitalize the Canadian sports system from the ground up."

Jennifer Hood is the mother-of-three and author of the latter quote, as well as being the owner and director of Jump! Gymnastics, a Yaletown studio that "offers children from six months to eight years old the opportunity to explore movement through activities that enhance balance, strength, flexibility, coordination and agility. Jump! is about much that gymnastics, despite the name. "We teach kids physical literacy," Jennifer explains, "the confidence, and capability, to move your body in a variety of environments, like land, ice, snow and water." The program aims to distill out the core components required for any number of spots, like jumping or throwing into a fundamental movement pattern that kids can apply to whatever sport they enjoy, from swimming to skiing to soccer. "Teach kids movement skulls really gives them the confidence to pickup any sport they choose", says Jennifer, about skills they can put towards being healthy and active for a lifetime.

Jennifer's vision of creating a studio where she could promote her ambition to improve the physical fitness of children has become a reality, and a resounding success - with 12 coaches with varied physical education and coaching backgrounds and classes consistently running at capacity. Though Jennifer's passion for physical literacy began when she was just 15, she had more than saving Canada's kids for X-boxes and obesity on her mind when she decided to build her business from the ground up.

"When my middle daughter was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, I immediately knew my life was going to play out differently than I thought. I decided to build a business doing something I loved, but that would also give me the flexibility to be with my daughter and the rest of my family while she is getting her hospital treatments. I'm investing time up front, that will hopefully pay off in the future, because as she grows up there may be challenges that require me to have extended periods of time away from work to care for her. Jump! will hopefully be at a point where it can sustain our family financially while I'm where I need to be."

Aided by enrolling in Langara College's Self-Employment program, and with two young children to look after, in 2007 Jennifer spent two years overall; from the development of her business plan, to creating the curriculum, training staff and designing and building the warm, attractive and functional space that Jump! calls home. On September 2,2008 Jump! opened its doors and almost immediately became a destination for kids and parents across Vancouver.

That plans are to bring the Jump! Gymnastics physical literacy program to as many kids as possible in the future, by opening new locations, as well as expanding the curriculum to include older kids and even adults. Says Jennifer, "There's a real lack of comprehensive multi-age platforms in the community, ones that teach quality sports skills in a non-competitive environment." As this plan progresses , she can already appreciate the positive effects of all her efforts. "It is so incredibly rewarding watching something you've dreamed of come to reality. It seems unbelievable."

With her ambition, expertise, and energy focused on extending physical literacy skills to children everywhere, this WestCoast Mom's success will be measured by not only her family's happiness and financial stability, by by the legions of lifelong healthy people who have benefited from having the necessary foundation to be active for life.