Archive for May, 2011

CDC’s Community Transformation Grants (CTGs)

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Created by the Affordable Care Act, Community Transformation Grants (CTGs) are aimed at helping communities implement projects proven to reduce chronic diseases – such as diabetes and heart disease. Over $100M is available for the current year, and local/state health departments are a perfect fit for this opportunity!


Letter of Intent: June 6, 2011

Application: July 15, 2011


  • Support evidence and practice-based community and clinical prevention and wellness strategies that will lead to specific, measurable health outcomes to reduce chronic disease rates.
  • To create healthier communities by
  1. Building capacity to implement broad evidence and practice-based policy, environmental, programmatic and infrastructure changes in large counties, and in states, tribes and territories, including in rural and frontier areas
  2. Supporting implementation of such interventions in five strategic areas (“Strategic Directions”) aligning with “Healthy People 2020” focus areas and achieving demonstrated progress in the following five performance measures outlined in the Affordable Care Act: 1) changes in weight 2) changes in proper nutrition 3) changes in physical activity 4) changes in tobacco use prevalence 5) changes in emotional well being and overall mental health


  • Local governmental agencies, state governmental agencies, Health Departments, ministries of health, and other governmental agencies
  • Federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages; Tribal organizations; Urban Indian Health Programs; Tribal and intertribal consortia
  • State nonprofit organizations
  • Local nonprofit organizations


CDC Community Transformation Grants Homepage Notice and Application

Before You Apply:

SPARK can help you meet the requirements outlined in the CTGs application!

SPARK offers evidence-based Physical Education, Physical Activity and Coordinated School Health programs targeting pre-K through 12th grade students in and out of school, and our programs have been proven to WORK and LAST.

Click Here to download a detailed document that will explain how you can use SPARK to align with the goals of the CTG. This document includes information that shows:

  1. Alignment to the Strategic Directions and Strategies within the CTGs application
  2. Alignment to CDC’s long-term measures for addressing physical activity and nutrition
  3. Why you should partner with SPARK for your CTGS submission
  4. How SPARK deliverables align with CDC prevention outcomes
  5. Which SPARK Evaluation & Assessment options might be used to support your submission

Next Steps:

Contact Kymm Ballard, Ed.D at SPARK. She’ll ask you a few questions, learn about your current programs, and listen to your vision for creating a healthier community. Together, we’ll create a program that will WORK and LAST.

Kymm Ballard, Ed.D

Partnership Development Specialist

PEP Grant eliminated for 2012!? Act now!

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Last week, Congressman Duncan Hunter, who chairs the House Subcommittee with jurisdiction over ESEA, introduced a bill that eliminates PEP (along with 42 other programs). Please share with your members and have them send emails, phone calls, etc. to their own legislators, but also to the members of the Subcommittee, whose websites and phone numbers are listed below (there is contact information on each members Web page). This type of grassroots communication is essential in the current fiscal climate!! Sample language is attached.


Duncan D. Hunter, California 202-225-5672;

John Kline, Minnesota 202-225-2271;

Thomas E. Petri, Wisconsin 202-225-2476;

Judy Biggert, Illinois 202-225-3515;

Todd Russell Platts, Pennsylvania 202-225-6565;

Virginia Foxx, North Carolina 202-225-2071;

Richard Hanna, New York 202-225-3665;

Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania 202-225-6511;

Kristi Noem, South Dakota 202-225-2801;

Martha Roby, Alabama 202-225-2901;

Mike Kelly, Pennsylvania 202-225-5406;


Dale Kildee, Michigan; 202-225-3611;

Donald Payne, New Jersey 202-225-3436;

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Virginia 202-225-8351;

Carolyn McCarthy, New York 202-225-5516;

Rush Holt, New Jersey 202-225-5801;

Susan Davis, California 202-225-2040;

Raul Grijalva, Arizona 202-225-2435;

Mazie Hirono, Hawaii 202-225-4906;

Lynn C. Woolsey, California 202-225-5161;

Some Resources for Replenishing Your PE Equipment this Spring…

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Hi everybody:

It’s May and that means it’s time to inventory your physical education/physical activity equipment. Do you have any beanbags that grew little legs and walked away? Are you sure there were 36 foamballs the last time you looked, and now there are 12? SPARK can help!

Everything available in the Sportime/School Specialty catalogs is on SPARKstore. Ordering directly from our website is safe, fast and easy.  And check out the great pricing! Any questions about items or substitutions just call or email us at SPARK.

For a free tool to help you manage your equipment, download our equipment inventory sheets:

Equipment Inventory Sheets:

Enjoy the warmer weather and taking your students outside again!

SPARK & Skillastics Team-Up to Get Kids Active

Friday, May 6th, 2011

SPARK is proud to announce a partnership with Skillastics, the leader in engaging, reinforcing, and assessing large groups of children PreK-12 in standards-based fitness and sports specific skill development activities.

Skillastics, now a SPARK Recommended Resource, will enhance SPARK activities by providing an additional assessment tool, allowing the instructor the freedom to view a large amount of children engaging in activities supported by a SPARK lesson. This partnership was formed to foster greater access to quality physical activity solutions for schools and community-based organizations nationwide.

SPARK Executive Director Paul Rosengard adds, “I’ve been a big fan of Sandy (Spin) Slade and Skillastics for a long time. Their products are an excellent supplement for our SPARK teachers and youth leaders and I recommend them highly. I’m especially excited about Skillastics’ application in after school environments where space limitations and instruction of children from multiple grade levels are common place.”

Skillastics is considered a “new and improved twist” in circuit training, and allows 1 to 100 children of varying ages and athletic abilities to participate and enjoy being active at one time. They provide solutions for physical education, after school, and early childhood programs.

Their newest offering, “Character is Cool”, is designed as a teaching tool to help children interact positively with one another while participating in cooperative fitness activities that emphasize character traits such as good sporting behavior, respect, responsibility, teamwork, caring and honesty.

Since its introduction in 2003, Skillastics is enjoyed in over 20,000 physical education classes, after school programs, and community-based organizations throughout the world!

For more information on Skillastics please visit

10 Ideas to Improve Your School’s PE Program

Friday, May 6th, 2011

SPARK physical education programs are designed to be more inclusive, active, and fun than traditional PE classes, helping students seek out physical activity and develop a lifetime commitment to wellness. Programs allow students to develop a variety of movement skills and teamwork capabilities so kids feel more comfortable in both group and movement environments, making them more likely to seek out these environments on their own or to be asked by others to participate.

Initiating a SPARK program is one of the best things your school can do to improve its PE program. SPARK was proven to work with both physical education specialists and classroom teachers. Today, after lessons learned from more than 20 years of ongoing research and field testing nationwide, SPARK PE is one of the best physical education programs in the world – a true solution to our growing problem of overweight and obese children.

The following ten ideas are taken from years of research and field-testing and provide examples of how YOU can improve your PE program.

1. Focus on lifelong activities rather than team or individual sports. While weight training, running, yoga, aerobics, golf, frisbee, tennis, and softball may all be considered team and/or individual sports, these activities tend to be carried over to adulthood more often than other competitive sports like football, basketball, soccer, and track and field events that kids may participate in during childhood and adolescence only. Click Here for sample SPARK PE activities and lesson plans.

2. Implement physical activities that children enjoy and will continue to seek out on their own. Of course we want kids to like PE class, but a better goal is to teach them movement activities they like so much that they want to do them at recess, after school, and at home as well, more than they want to play video games or watch television. Part of the trick is to emphasize “fun” over “exercise.”

3. Purchase physical activity equipment, including assessment tools. Providing equipment that enhances physical activities gives educators a wider range of choices for lesson plans during PE class. Purchasing assessment tools such as pedometers and heart rate monitors helps educators track student progress, and kids have fun tracking the number of steps or miles they can walk during a given time period. Click Here for information on the age-appropriate, content-matched equipment that SPARK recommends.

4. Break down larger classes into smaller groups. Budget cutbacks have left schools with fewer teachers and larger class sizes, making it more difficult to engage students. PE class is one area where it’s possible to break the class into smaller groups of four to six children per group, making it easier for kids to work on building their social skills and teamwork. PE class is the perfect place to provide a variety of activities in stations that kids switch up every ten minutes.

5. Provide weight and resistance training classes and equipment. More middle and high schools are offering weight training classes as an alternative to traditional PE classes, teaching a specific area of lifelong movement and exercise that kids often carry with them into adulthood. Elementary schools that are able to purchase some weight and resistance training tools can offer a shorter, four to six week program to give kids a taste of their future physical education class options.

6. Include activities for all students. Some kids are more athletic than others, and some children have developmental issues or physical disabilities that make it harder for them to participate in traditional PE class activities. Physical education programs should focus on providing a variety of movement-based activities that will allow everyone to be involved and even challenge some of the more fitness-inclined kids with activities they’re not familiar with.

7. Provide professional development for teachers. Educators that are specifically trained in physical education still need continuing education to keep them up-to-date on everything from new, innovative PE lesson plans to current health and nutrition information. Likewise, other teachers around the school can be trained to integrate physical activity, health, wellness, and lifestyle into traditional classes like reading, writing, arithmetic, and science.

8. Take a holistic approach to wellness and well-being. Creating healthy, happy children with good habits they’ll carry over into adulthood isn’t limited to physical education, movement, and activity, although these are excellent places to start. PE classes can broaden the variety of topics they teach with healthy lifestyle approaches, and the entire school can get involved by teaching these same concepts in social studies, science, and even humanities-based classes.

9. Integrate health and nutrition programs into PE classes and classroom-based classes. Health and nutrition are just as important to healthy lifestyles and lifelong wellness and physical activity and movement, so PE classes are a great place to begin teaching kids these concepts as well. Of course, we don’t want to take movement time away from kids when it’s so limited already, so schools who can integrate separate health and nutrition classes into the curriculum will produce even healthier kids. A four to six week block in a science or social studies class is the perfect place to start.

10. Provide assessment initiatives. Improving PE programs is only part of the battle. Your school will want to find a way to assess and evaluate students’ levels of fitness, in order to identify areas in which progress was successful and other areas in which improvements still need to be made. Click Here for information on the assessment tools that SPARK uses.