Kids ‘Jump with Jill’ to learn nutrition

“Jump with Jill” star Jill (Hailey Zoccoli), right, and DJ Mark E. Mark (Mark Jayne), left, perform Tuesday for hundreds of first-graders at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. The “Jump with Jill” show encourages activity and healthy nutrition through music and dance. (Photo by Michael Erb)

PARKERSBURG — Hundreds of area first-graders showed their moves Tuesday at West Virginia University at Parkersburg as part of a one-of-a-kind music and nutrition show.

“Jump with Jill” is a touring performance that encourages active and healthy life choices through song and dance. More than 600 students from throughout Wood and neighboring counties attended the program at WVU-Parkersburg that was sponsored by the college’s Education Division and paid for with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and WVU Extension Service.

Now in its 10th year, the “Jump with Jill” show, created by Jill Jayne, has been performed for nearly 1 million kids around the world. The work has led to multiple Emmy Award nominations, two Telly Awards and an invitation to the White House.

“This is the world’s only rock and roll nutrition show,” said Hailey Zoccoli, who performed as “Jill” for Tuesday’s program. “It is so important to get kids thinking about health at an early age. If you inspire them at a young age, you’re setting them up for success.”

Zoccoli and Mark Jayne, who goes by the name “DJ Mark E. Mark” onstage, led the students in numerous dance numbers, often pulling kids out of the audience to participate. In between she talked about healthy eating and how staying active can help everyone lead better lives.

First-graders raise their hands during Tuesday’s “Jump with Jill” show at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. More than 600 students from Wood and surrounding counties attended the rock and roll nutrition show. (Photo by Michael Erb)

“The purpose of this event is provide teachers in our partner schools with tools to teach children healthy living habits,” said David Lancaster, chair of the WVU Parkersburg Education Division. “We’re excited for this unique opportunity to have ‘Jump with Jill’ on our campus.”