Archive for March, 2013

Partnership for a Healthier America Summit

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

By Dr. Jim Sallis

I just attended a highly-motivational PHA Summit, highlighted by a rousing talk from First Lady Michelle Obama.  I will share the big physical activity news at the Summit. There were three announcements. The first happened the previous week when PHA announced Let’s Move Active Schools. This is a partnership of several organizations that will provide small grants to schools to increase physical activity. The big news was Nike’s contribution of $50 million to support this program over five years. I think it is significant that a company is making a commitment at this level to school physical activity. My hope is that some schools can leverage the small grant into sufficient funds to train teachers in evidence-based programs like SPARK that will create long-lasting improvements.

The second announcement was that Reebok made a $30 million commitment to expanding its BOKS before school program. Perhaps other sporting goods companies will realize that investing in physical activity programs is good for their companies as well as great for kids.

The third news item was the release of the DHHS report, Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth. This was a literature review that confirmed that school interventions such as comprehensive multi-component programs and active physical education are the approaches with the best evidence of effectiveness.  There was suggestive evidence for interventions in preschool and childcare settings and for supportive built environments such as walkable neighborhoods, parks, and facilities for active transportation. Thus, there are reasons to invest in these programs, but they should be evaluated. Other approaches such as family-based, health care, and after school programs had insufficient evidence in general. But of course there is evidence that the SPARK after school program does get kids active. This new report is getting a lot of attention and should convince more school administrators to invest in evidence-based physical activity programs. Use the report in your advocacy.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report

PAG Midcourse Report Overview

Related evidence was published recently in American Journal of Preventive Medicine. This literature review by David Bassett and colleagues computed the average effect of various youth physical activity interventions in terms of minutes per day of physical activity, mostly measured objectively by accelerometers or observation. Physical education interventions were at the top of the scale. However, PE by itself was not enough to provide the 30 minutes of physical activity that schools should be expected to deliver. Bassett’s findings can be used to put together a menu of programs, including recess and classroom activity breaks that can provide students the activity they need.  In other words, school officials have many options for putting together a comprehensive approach that is appropriate for their needs.

Back to the PHA Summit. I moderated a session on physical activity programming that was well attended. I gave a brief account of my own background as co-founder of SPARK 23 years ago. I informed the audience that we demonstrated that SPARK was effective, and now students in many thousands of schools nationwide are benefitting on a daily basis. The three speakers represented Up2Us, PlayWorks, and the Y of Greater New York City. They are all doing great work, but SPARK is reaching more students than any of their programs. We need multiple ways of getting kids active, but I’m proud to be associated with SPARK, which continues to innovate and lead the field.

I encourage all of you to check out the website for the PHA Summit and stay in contact with the leading organizations in the childhood obesity prevention and physical activity promotion movement.

One last thought. At the recent Active Living Research Conference, we played the “Help! We Need PE” video written by Monica Lounsbery, starring our own Thom McKenzie, and drawn and produced beautifully by Tom Racine of SPARK. You will enjoy watching it, and you may want to share it with others. Two thumbs up.

Jim Sallis (see my completely renovated website)

SPARK Presentations at the 2013 AAHPERD Convention

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Below is a list of SPARK presentations at the 2013 AAHPERD Convention in Charlotte. And while you’re there, make sure to stop by the SPARK/Sportime booth to see the latest and greatest! We’re going to have a free-throw contest in our booth with a friendly east-west competition as well as a raffle for a iPad Mini…

1) Fair and Equitable — Really?

Presenter: Paul Rosengard and Kymm Ballard

Wednesday, April 24, 2013: 3:15 PM-5:15 PM

Convention Center: Exhibit Hall C

2) School Policies, Environment, and Physical Education and Recess Time

Presenter: Thom McKenzie

Thursday, April 25, 2013: 10:55 AM

201AB (Convention Center)

3) Start Your Engine with A Healthy School Report Card

Presenter: Julie Frank

Thursday, April 25, 2013: 2:15 PM-4:15 PM

Convention Center: 206AB

4) It Was 20 Years Ago Today

Presenter: Paul Rosengard and Thom McKenzie

Thursday, April 25, 2013: 4:30 PM-5:30 PM

Convention Center: 207CD

5) Health Optimizing Physical Education: A New Curriculum Model

Presenter: Thom McKenzie

Friday, April 26, 2013: 8:45 AM-10:00 AM

Convention Center: 203A

6) Driving Towards a Healthier Generation Through Technology & Exergames

Presenter: Aaron Hart

Friday, April 26, 2013: 10:15 AM-12:15 PM

Convention Center: 217A

7) Effective Affective—Standards 5 and 6 in Secondary PE

Presenter:  Aaron Hart

Saturday, April 27, 2013: 8:45 AM-10:00 AM

Convention Center: Ballroom CD

Interested in Applying for the 2013 PEP Grant?

Friday, March 1st, 2013

The Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Grants are federally funded grants for school districts, after school programs and community based organizations to support standards-based physical education/activity and nutrition programs. The grants are for 3 years and are usually awarded annually (pending available funding).

Please use the following guidelines to determine if your school district or agency would be a good fit to utilize the PEP Grant.

1.  Have you read the 2013 PEP Application?

If no, please click here for the application, and click here for the Federal Register notice.

If YES, go onto the next step.

2.  Is your agency a Local Education Agency (LEA) or Community Based Organization (CBO) as defined by the PEP Grant?

If no, please visit the SPARK Grant-Finder Tool to find other applicable grants for your agency.

If YES, please go onto the next step.

3.  Does your agency have a dedicated and committed Central Office contact (i.e. full-time Health/PE Supervisor/Coordinator/Administrator) to support a federal grant?  This person must be ready to spend 40-50 hours until April 12, 2013 to complete the grant.

If no, please visit the SPARK Grant-Finder Tool to find other applicable grants for your agency.

If YES, please go onto the next step.

4.  Has your LEA (or if you are a CBO, the LEA you are working with) completed, or are you in the process of completing, the following CDC assessment tools?

If no, please click on the hyperlinks above to start working on the required tools so your agency is ready for the PEP 2014 application.  In the meantime, please visit the SPARK Grant-Finder Tool to find other applicable grants for your agency.

If YES, please go onto the next step.

5. Is your agency able to get buy-in from all PE teachers or leaders to gather student data during the three years of the PEP Grant on the following assessments?

  • Multi-Day Pedometer Step Data for students in grades K–12
  • 3 Day Physical Activity Recall Survey for students in students in grades 5–12
  • Presidential Youth Fitness Program assessment for all students
  • Youth Risk Behavior Survey nutrition-related questions for High School students
  • Fruit and vegetable consumption survey for students in grades K–8

Each of the above surveys must be completed 2 times annually. During the first year, grantees have an additional data collection period prior to program implementation to collect baseline data.

If YES, please go onto the next step.

6. Do you have the required “Community Partnerships” as defined in the PEP application?

Minimum Partners include:

  • An LEA (local educational agency)
  • At least one Community Based Organization
  • A local public health entity
  • The LEA‘s food service or child nutrition director
  • The head of the local government

If no, start to work on those partnerships.  Schedule a meeting with them so you are ready to apply for next year.  In the meantime, please visit the SPARK Grant-Finder Tool to find other applicable grants for your agency.

If YES, please go onto the next step.

7. Do you have the required ‘matching funds’ (10% in year 1, 25% in years 2-3)?  Please see what’s eligible for matching funds in the PEP application.

If YES, please go onto the next step.

8. Are you looking for the only researched-based Prek-12th Grade physical education program to implement in your agency?

If YES, you are ready to contact SPARK.

Please visit for more information on the SPARK programs.

You can email or call 1-800-SPARK-PE (772-7573) and a SPARK representative will consult with you on your PEP Grant.

Please also visit on how SPARK aligns with PEP, including the PECAT, HECAT, testimonials and more.