David Gershon knows how to get kids moving. He tells them about the elephants.
“Instead of just saying, ‘Go outside and run around,’ you go outside with the child and say, ‘I don’t know if you noticed, but behind that tree, there’s an entire herd of elephants and they’re coming this way. Let’s run.”
Gershon, along with his wife Judy, make up Judy & David, the musical duo that has about 20 years of experience performing for children, and a Juno Award to show for it. Now, the two are about to star in their own Kids’ CBC show, JiggiJump, which encourages children to get off the couch.
On the show, the Gershons take kids through a musical adventure, all while going through a full exercise routine of a warm up, stretches, cardio and a cool down.
“There’s no question medically why kids have to get moving more. There’s reams and reams of data,” Gershon said.
And he’s right. According to the Childhood Obesity Foundation, more than 30 per cent of children and youth are considered overweight or obese.
“Every little bit helps. If we can get a kid who’s sitting sedentary in front of the TV to get up and get moving, we’ve accomplished something,” Gershon said. “I know there’s irony in creating a TV show to get kids away from screens, but where are you going to reach kids who are watching too many screens? You’re going to reach them through [those] screens.”
While the show’s Kids’ CBC time slot is aimed at preschool children, JiggiJump originally started as an educational CD for schools and a live concert for children. All in all, the couple’s aim is to reach kids from preschool to Grade 3.
“JiggiJump existed first as a CD and teacher’s guide that went out to about half a million kids around Ontario,” Gershon said. When the musical duo started performing JiggiJump concerts, they got “such powerful feedback.” Eventually reps from CBC saw a live show.
“There’s 10,000 TV shows that want to get made and five that get made. What made the difference is they came out and saw it,” Gershon said.
JiggiJump isn’t the first show Gershon and his wife have starred in. The two are known for Judy & David’s Boom Box, which aired on Treehouse TV. But it was at a summer camp that Gershon first found his voice.
“I was the camp song leader guy, with my guitar, getting everybody singing along. If I was told to just go stand in front of a bunch of people and sing at them, I wouldn’t like that at all. But to get them singing? I loved that,” he said. “The closest thing to that in the real world is children’s music.”
For Gershon, working with his wife makes sense.
“We have different skills. Early on in our career, we both sat at a piano bench and tried to write a song at the same time and nearly killed each other,” he said.
Now, Gershon will start a song and hand it off to Judy.
“I’m great at starting ideas. Judy’s great at finishing ideas,” he said.
JiggiJump airs on Sept. 3 and will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:11 a.m. on Kids’ CBC. For more info, visit jiggijump.org.