Sports Backers Blog

Mayor Stoney, Councilwoman Gray Celebrate New 'UpSwing' Jump Rope Stations in Downtown Richmond

RICHMOND, VA – The City of Richmond officially welcomed the installation of five new ‘UpSwing’ jump rope stations located in downtown neighborhoods, with Mayor Levar Stoney helping to kick off the new venture. Mayor Stoney was joined at the announcement at McCormick’s Progressive Barber Shop, one of the host locations, by Councilwoman Kimberly Gray. He also took a turn demonstrating the jump rope station to highlight the new opportunities for play and physical activity available to Richmond residents. Representatives from Sports Backers, the Capital Region Collaborative, JumpStarz, and KaBoom!, the national playability expert that provided grant funding for the project, also attended the event.

“These jump rope stations are a great addition to our city streets, and we’re very excited to celebrate their installation,” said Mayor Stoney. “They add more opportunities for physical activity on a regular basis and I’m looking forward to seeing the many ways that residents of all ages will take advantage of them.”

In addition to McCormick’s, the other ‘UpSwing’ stations are located at the Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library (101 E. Franklin Street), Image Enhancement Center (00 East Broad Street), Silk Hair Studio (1657 W. Broad Street), and Moizelle’s Cleaners (401 N. First Street). The project came to life when Sports Backers was named a winner of a nationally competitive ‘Play Everywhere Challenge’ coordinated by KaBoom to create novel play opportunities in city neighborhoods. Sports Backers then partnered with the VCU da Vinci Center and the City of Richmond to design and install the stations.

“Richmond continues to lead the charge for active living initiatives, and these UpSwing jump rope stations are another example of an innovative way to provide more daily opportunities for play,” said Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of Sports Backers. “It’s a great community collaboration to make Richmond an even more vibrant, active, and healthy city.”

Early prototypes of the stations were tested by nearly 100 area kids in the spring of 2017. The feedback provided helped project partners and designers at the VCU da Vinci Center make the necessary design changes for the stations. The final installations provide natural opportunities for Richmond kids and families to encounter play in their day-to-day lives. “Play does not always have to happen at a playground,” said Naudy Martinez, KaBoom’s Senior Program Manager, who attended Thursday’s event from Washington, D.C., to feature Richmond as a leading playful city. “Play can be available where kids already spend their time. The UpSwing stations put play right on the sidewalk for families to stop and enjoy on their way to other destinations.”

Thursday was officially “Play Day RVA,” a region-wide effort led by the Capital Region Collaborative to highlight the benefits of play and activity across nine jurisdictions in central Virginia, positioning the region as a national leader in active living. “UpSwing is an innovative and tangible way Richmond is leading the way in making play a permanent part of our landscape,” Lugbill said.