Archive for the ‘Physical Inactivity’ Category

SPARK Teams Up with ICAN Foundation

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

SPARK Teams Up with ICAN Foundation to Rush Past Childhood Obesity with New Orleans Saints Running Back Pierre Thomas

Partnership aims to decrease “screen-time” and increase physical activity both during school and after school with quality PE programming and community events

SPARK™, provider of the world’s most-researched physical education programs, is partnering with ICAN Foundation to make an immediate impact on the lives of students in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi. SPARK and ICAN Foundation will work together to help schools and community centers raise funds or apply for and win grants in order to implement SPARK’s high-quality physical education curricula or afterschool program.

SHAPE America recommends that school-aged children receive at least 60-minutes of physical activity per day. This is hard to achieve if students spend most of the eight-hour school day sitting behind desks. SPARK fights this sedentary school model by making classroom instruction, PE classes and after school programs more physically active. Similarly, the increased amount of time youth spend using electronics is impeding on physical activity after school and on the weekends. Through its community programs and initiatives, ICAN Foundation is helping create more active lifestyles to demonstrate how being active can be fun and rewarding.

“After learning about the similarities of our organizations and the fact that SPARK is the number-one research-based health organization in our country, I knew a partnership was necessary,” said Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints running back and founder of ICAN Foundation. “This will be a great opportunity for everyone involved, especially the students.”

“Working with ICAN Foundation is the perfect marriage of ideas for SPARK,” said Paul Rosengard, executive director of SPARK. “With the foundation’s deep community connections in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi, and SPARK’s 25 years of experience in schools nationwide, we make a great team. With a joint goal of increasing the amount of physical activity youth receive every day, we know that together we can make an impact on those communities.”

How Can You Help?
Together, ICAN and SPARK will implement research-based programing to help combat childhood obesity in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi. Your support, partnership, or donation can assist us in our efforts. Please contact us to learn more and support the effort to combat childhood obesity.

Dr. Kymm Ballard
SPARK Partnership Development Manager
(336) 263-3646

Vincent Calabrese
ICAN Foundation
(312) 285-9384

About ICAN Foundation
ICAN Foundation was founded by Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints running back, in response to the ongoing problem with childhood obesity. ICAN Foundation was established to prevent and educate the children and their parents about the seriousness of childhood obesity in the United States.

SPARK is a collection of research-based Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health programs for educators serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum materials, teacher training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders, representing many thousands of schools, organizations, and agencies worldwide. SPARK also helps educators find physical education grants. For more information on SPARK, visit or email or call 1-800-SPARK-PE.

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Stuck in the Sixties

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

By Dr. Thom McKenzie

Forty-three years ago this week (1966) I received my first degree, a Bachelors of Physical Education. I had mastered a very excellent program, and I had wonderful teachers. They ensured that I was physically fit, physically skilled, current academically on exercise physiology, kinesiology, and other subjects, and that I had practice and feedback on managing and instructing students. I was ready for my first job as a high school teacher and coach, and I did well at it.

My teacher preparation program taught me nothing at all about promoting physical activity or changing human behavior (Skinner was still being entertained by rodents in his laboratory). But that was OK because it was the sixties and sedentary living was not yet a problem. There were no global obesity and diabetes crises and the term diabesity had not yet been coined. I was not at all concerned with getting my students active outside the gym, because they did this automatically. Most walked to school, many did physical labor at home, and the only screen time to worry about was during fly season in the summer.

In my current job as a researcher I spend more time observing what happens in gyms than directing what goes on there. Teachers are still doing pretty much what I did over 40 years ago, although they now face much larger classes and more disruptive students. I find most are pretty well prepared. Unfortunately their preparation has been aimed primarily at facing the challenges that I encountered long ago, not the challenges of today.

In a scientific study using direct observation we found that PE teachers in six states spent only about 20 seconds of each class prompting or encouraging their middle school students to be active outside of class (McKenzie et al., 2006). In addition at AAHPERD this spring, I conducted a very unscientific poll of physical educators and teacher educators. Of the over 40 higher education institutions represented, only two offered current physical education majors courses in behavior analysis/behavior modification and none provided coursework in social marketing.

Even when offered daily, PE provides only a small proportion of the 60 minutes per day recommended by health authorities. According to NASPE Standard 3, a physically educated person “participates regularly in physical activity.” PE teachers cannot help students meet this objective unless they have been prepared to promote physical activity beyond their gym walls. It is time for PETE (Physical Education Teacher Education) programs to become unstuck from the sixties. In the interim, it is up to district staff development programs to help teachers acquire the new skills that are needed to assist students to avoid a lifetime of sedentary living.


McKenzie, T. L. (2007). The preparation of physical educators: A public health perspective. Quest, 59, 346-357.

McKenzie, T. L., Catellier, D. J., Conway, T., Lytle, L. A., Grieser, M., Webber, L. A., Pratt, C. A, & Elder, J. P. (2006). Girls’ activity levels and lesson contexts during middle school PE: TAAG baseline. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 38(7), 1229-1235.