Archive for February, 2011

“Mission Possible – for YOUR Program”

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

“If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve arrived?”

This statement is obviously pre-GPS technology, but I think you know where we’re going with this…

At SPARK, we’re big believers in instructional alignment.  Sure, we have Standards, benchmarks, yearly plans, assessment tools, and activities, pedagogy, and equipment to coordinate.  Sheesh, isn’t that enough??!

Actually, there’s one more piece to the puzzle – and it really completes it.  A mission statement is what your district, or school, or physical education program believes in.  It’s at the top of the instructional alignment pyramid – IOW, you don’t include that instructional unit in your program if it doesn’t align with your mission statement.  You don’t grade students that way if it doesn’t align with your mission statement.  What you do daily, weekly, monthly, yearly should cascade up to your mission statement.

If you’re a physical educator at an elementary, middle or high school and your department (even if your department is only YOU) doesn’t have a MS, it’s high time to put the task in your queue.  If you already have a mission statement, when was the last time you re-visited it?

Here are 10 terrific tips for writing (a better word might be developing) a mission statement, followed by a few samples (not models) from other schools to review (sans school name for anonymity).

  1. Ask yourself or your team the right questions.  To begin, what do we do and why do we do it?  What do we want for our students, our school, our community?  What are the 3 or 4 objectives or attributes that define our PE program?  Think about the SPARK that initially ignited your desire to become a physical educator in the first place.  What will keep your SPARK alive?
  1. Say it clearly.  Your mission statement needs to clearly state your professional goals and objectives. It should explain how what you do as a department will make a difference in the lives of your students, school, and community.
  1. Decide what makes you different.  Never forget you are pursuing the same budget dollars as other subject areas.  How does physical education stand out from the other educational disciplines?
  1. Build your brand.  Use your mission statement to build your unique brand.  Make sure to communicate your program’s key values to your students, school, and community.
  1. Keep it short and sweet.  Ideally, you should be able to summarize your department’s mission in a few sentences.  Consider it your elevator pitch.  You should be able to state your department’s mission succinctly in the time it takes to ride an elevator from the ground floor to the top floor.
  1. Be honest.  Make sure when you read your own mission statement, it reflects what you/your colleagues truly believe.  Too much pomp and self-congratulatory language will turn off those who read it, so avoid saying your program is the “best” at this or the “world leader” at that.
  1. Make it a joint effort.  It’s incredibly helpful to get the input of others, both inside and outside your department.  Collaborators can help you to better see the strengths and weaknesses of your mission statement.
  1. Polish the language.  See to it that you have several pairs of eyes (ideally belonging to wordy, editor types) to review your mission statement many times until every word sizzles (perhaps, SPARK’s).  Your mission statement should be error-free, eloquent, and precise.  It should be dynamic and inspirational.  In short, it should be as close to perfect as you can get it.
  1. Spread the word.  Once your mission statement is complete, start sharing it by posting it everywhere you can.  It should be prominently displayed on your school website, in your locker room or gym, in correspondence that goes home with the kids, maybe even at the bottom of your school e-mails.  Be creative in spreading the word.
  1. Revise as needed.  Your mission statement, as wonderful as it might sound now, should not be set in stone.  As your program changes, so too might your department’s mission.  Revisit your mission statement on a regular basis to evaluate whether it should be revised or updated.  If it’s solid, you probably won’t need to alter it significantly as time goes by.

Samples of mission statements from physical education departments:

The _______ Middle School Physical Education staff believes that each and every student can achieve excellence regardless of size, maturity, coordination, body type, or other physical capability.

We as a department are concerned with developing a child’s positive attitude towards physical education that will last a lifetime.

_________ physical education strives to maintain an activity based program while teaching lifelong fitness in a safe and enjoyable environment.

There you have it, mission possible!  You can do this!  And you should.

So think about your next steps, put this assignment in your calendar so you begin to allocate time to make it happen, then enjoy the process.

Let’s Move! Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

People often ask “What is Let’s Move! really doing?”  Well, as the First Lady has often said:  “We won’t solve our problems just by passing laws in Washington.  We know that stopping childhood obesity isn’t the job of just the government, or doctors, or community organizations.  We all have a role to play.”

Let’s Move! is an initiative [ih-nish-ee-uh-tiv] (Noun: an introductory act or step; leading action).  Initiatives can raise awareness and with awareness comes a call to action.  The First Lady and the Let’s Move! Initiative have been instrumental in several big steps so far, including:

  • Helping to organize communities to be the driving force behind Let’s Move! Where many Faith groups from across the country have committed to walking 3 million miles and hosting 10,000 community gardens or farmers markets.
  • Promoting health and wellness to reduce chronic conditions
  • Creating a new Prevention and Public Health Fund to build healthier communities, including preventing childhood obesity
  • Mandated that new health insurance plans to cover screening for childhood obesity and counseling from doctors without a co-pay or any other payment
  • Issued a call to action for healthier options in schools and other sites where children attend
  • Teamed up with athletic organizations including the National Basketball Association, the US Tennis Association and the National Football League, where some of our nation’s favorite athletes are working to inspire kids to play sports and get active
  • Helped to launch the new President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. .
  • Just last month, Walmart, one of the nation’s largest retail stores, announced a new Nutrition Charter designed to bring healthier and more affordable foods to the 140 million customers that shop at their stores each week.

Let’s Move! has built momentum over the last year and we in communities need to be ready to build on these outstanding efforts in the year ahead.

-Kymm Ballard, SPARK Partnership Development Specialist

3 More Nutrition Education Questions Answered…

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

This week we’re excited to feature three more nutrition education questions answered by our partner Healthy Kids Challenge- enjoy!

1) Can what I eat (as a teacher) affect what my kids eat?

Yes, it can and it does! Research tells us that being a positive role model is important if we want to change behaviors. If you want children to eat right, then model healthy eating behaviors. And not just in the school cafeteria! Children see you before and after school and in the classroom, so you must “walk the walk” if you expect them to do the same. For simple tips on healthy role modeling at school see

2) Is it possible to integrate regular academic subjects into nutrition/health instruction?

You bet! And it’s simple, too! Healthy Kids Challenge offers curriculum, training, and resources to help you do just that. Our nutrition education curriculum, Balance My Day, is a research-based curriculum aligned with HECAT (Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool) Healthy Eating Behavior outcomes and standards. With Balance My Day nutrition education doesn’t need to be an add-on, it can easily be integrated into math, science and language!

Also, HKC offers an exciting menu of nutrition themed workshops for you to choose from. All are designed to bring nutrition education to life for your students and staff. The workshop “Balance My Day” guides you through simple solutions of how to easily incorporate nutrition education into the school day. We offer an array of free downloadable and affordable resources as well. For more information, visit

3) Where can I find resources for a year-long nutrition education curriculum?

Healthy Kids Challenge is the source for nutrition education curriculum. Balance My Day- Nutrition Education Curriculum is research-based curriculum aligned with HECAT (Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool) Healthy Eating Behavior outcomes and standards.

  • Offers 30 lessons, divided into 15-25 minute sessions.
  • Behavior themes focus on breakfast, snacks, beverages, portion sizes, fruits and veggies, active play, energy balance, body image, weight management and food skills
  • Nutrition education doesn’t need to be an add on, it can easily be integrated into math, science and language with Balance My Day
  • Goal setting, skill building, take home activities, parent tip sheets, food skills and tasting activities, logs, worksheets and student assessment included
  • Bonus additions are three nutrition education event guides and a set of 156 food picture cards for food identification, bulletin boards, or nutrition education games
  • Learn more

Healthy Kids Challenge (HKC), is a nationally recognized non-profit led by an exemplary team of registered, licensed dietitians with many years of school, program, and community wellness experience.

New Obesity Statistics Widget

Friday, February 11th, 2011

prevent-obesity-net-obesity-statistics-widgetAbout The United States is facing a child obesity epidemic and now, more than ever, needs people and organizations to step forward to change our path of self destruction. The technology exists to focus the world’s talents, creativity, and expertise on solving the problem that has cost our nation trillions of dollars over the past decade in health care costs. The combination of a grassroots movement and innovative ideas for reversing obesity will save our country money, lives, and keep our kids healthy. (Image from

New Widget: just released their newest tool to help stave the obesity situation. The free widget can be placed on any website or blog and provides a quick view of what obesity has and will cost our country. It shows an adult obesity rate of only 13% in 1960 costing the nation $46 billion in health care; in 2008 the numbers skyrocketed up to a 34% adult obesity rate, costing us $120 billion. The popular widget also shows the number of annual heart attacks and how many days obesity takes off of your expected lifespan. The widget is based on substantial research, looking at the implication of obesity on our nation. Having the numbers easily available for people to see creates a sense of urgency to fix the situation. This widget can easily spread the word of how serious the current issue is and hopefully get people motivated to join our cause.

Join the Movement: Reversing the negative effects obesity has on our children and nation is a monumental task that requires a lending hand from people like you. Everyone has seen firsthand how obesity can affect someone’s life; do not accept the same outcome for you and your family. Our nation will suffer when the next generation of obese children age and require substantial support. If you are interested in protecting our health and economy, take a stand and join in our movement against obesity. You can make small contributions or lead the way, every helping hand counts. To join the movement, connect with other motivated people by adding yourself to our map. provides free services to support leaders, organizers, and even businesses looking to make a difference.

Steps to Take

  1. Widget: Post the brand new widget on your blog and website. Show others that you care about the current obesity situation and let them see the numbers for themselves on your site. Many people do not realize how serious the issue has become in the United States. Seeing the actual impact in dollars and lives posted on your website will help bring them on board the cause.
  2. Map of the Movement: Add yourself to the map and then ask your friends and employer to join the cause. The more you spread the word, the more influential the free support from will be. Take a leadership role in one of the most important causes of this generation by adding yourself to the map.