The world’s most researched physical education curriculum expands with integration of evidenced-based program for school nutrition and wellness.
GREENVILLE, Wis., March 15, 2016 – School Specialty, Inc., a leading distributor of supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources to the education marketplace, today announced that its SPARK® physical education brand has acquired the rights to Healthy Kids Challenge® (HKC), a nationally recognized program providing evidence-based information and best practices to help children develop skills for healthy eating and physical activity choices.
Founded eighteen years ago (1998) under the auspices of Cooking Light magazine and directorship of Vickie L. James, RD, LD, Healthy Kids Challenge has grown as an award-winning nonprofit dedicated to helping schools and community programs nationwide problem-solve barriers and create policies and practices in nutrition education. HKC has provided quality, research-based resources including training, healthy eating lesson plans, and activities that motivate wellness with interactive learning and goal setting. The program is aligned with the most current health education standards and guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has built collaborative partnerships with leading organizations and professionals to serve hundreds of schools and thousands of children across the country. One of its many accolades is the Anita Owen Award for Most Innovative Educational Program from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (American Dietetic Association).
Commenting on today’s news, Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK & Sportime, School Specialty Physical Education stated, “With physical activity and healthy eating going hand in hand, it has been an organic and instrumental partnership between SPARK and HKC since 2010. It seemed only natural that we combine forces in the areas of physical and nutrition education to further develop evidence-based wellness programs that help our children and families reduce their obesity risk and halt the development of serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that have a costly impact on public health. The major appeal of the HKC curriculum has been its differentiated and validated approach and we praise the innovative and effective work of the HKC team for almost two decades. This new phase in the SPARK-HKC relationship greatly supports our mutual objectives to expand a curriculum-based physical education and nutrition/health portfolio with comprehensive solutions and services. We look forward to continued success!”
For more than 25 years SPARK has provided evidence-based physical education, after school, early childhood, and coordinated school health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. Each SPARK program is a coordinated package of curriculum, teacher training and content-matched equipment. The SPARK pedagogy is focused on highly active games, dances and sports that maximize physical activity, while also incorporating nutrition and health instruction.
Ed Carr, School Specialty’s Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer, stated, “The physical education category is one of our key growth channels and with the addition of Healthy Kids Challenge, we significantly enhance our collective offering. With the increased focus on health and wellness across schools throughout North America, it has become increasingly important to provide educators with the evidence-based and innovative training, equipment and support resources that advance their efforts in nurturing the physical, mental and emotional well-being of their students, and by extension communities. This also ties nicely with our expanding Health Care initiatives through SOAR Life Products. We will continue to focus our resources on growing our proprietary SPARK and Sportime brands, while leveraging the Healthy Kids Challenge offering, and look forward to welcoming the HKC program to the SSI family.”
“To be able to make a difference in the world is so humbling and gratifying, and to see the Healthy Kids Challenge grow and be nurtured by great partners like SPARK who share a similar philosophy of providing behavioral and environmental change programs and care as much about children as the HKC team does is exciting,” stated Director and Creator Vickie L. James, RD, LD. HKC stands beside the SPARK program and School Specialty in supporting schools and youth initiatives across the country to ‘Take the Challenge’ and to serve as key ‘KidLinks™’ in providing solutions for students and their families to eat healthy, move more and enjoy a balanced life. As my colleague Claudia Hohnbaum (Assistant Director) and I look towards retirement shortly, we can feel comfort in knowing that the HKC program is in excellent hands under the SPARK umbrella. We look forward to seeing the HKC work expand and reach even more kids and families!”
With the dissolving of the Healthy Kids Challenge nonprofit, SPARK & Sportime will assume ownership of all educational materials and programs. The HKC staff of registered and licensed dietitians will continue to serve as training, mentorship and coaching resources for SPARK.
About the SPARK Programs
SPARK is a research-based organization that creates, implements, and evaluates programs that promote lifelong wellness. The SPARK Programs consist of Early Childhood, K-12 Physical Education, After School, and Coordinated School Health. Each SPARK program provides curriculum, teacher training, follow up support and consultation, and content-matched equipment sets through the School Specialty Sportime business line. For more information on SPARK, visit www.sparkpe.org.
About School Specialty, Inc.
School Specialty is a leading distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to the education marketplace. The Company designs, develops, and provides educators with the latest and very best school supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Working in collaboration with educators, School Specialty reaches beyond the scope of textbooks to help teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. Through its SSI Guardian subsidiary, the Company is also committed to school, healthcare and corporate workplace safety by offering the highest quality curriculum, training and safety and security products. Finally, through its SOAR Life Products brand, the Company offers thousands of products that sharpen cognitive skills and build physical and mental strength in fun and creative ways. From childhood through adulthood, they help individuals live life to the fullest – engaged, happy and well. SOAR Life Products is a customized offering for hospitals, long-term care, therapeutic facilities, home care, surgery centers, day care centers, physician offices, and clinics. For more information about School Specialty, visit www.schoolspecialty.com.
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