Archive for the ‘SPARK Blog’ Category


How to Encourage Physical Literacy in Young Children

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

physical literacy

Parents and educators both have a vested interest in children’s literacy. One form of literacy that has become increasingly important as childhood obesity rates have climbed is physical literacy. Physical literacy is the mastering of essential movement skills and object control skills that permit a child to read their environment and make appropriate decisions. By extension, this can enable them to move confidently and command a broad range of situations that involve physical activity, and hopefully, encourage exercise and activity as they age.

The At-Risk Youth

Children are often resourceful by nature, and it’s true that they fall into exercise and physical activity through play time and by virtue of being active and curious youngsters. Despite this, children who are less inclined to engage in physical activity or who are not exposed to structured physical activity could  eventually  become less  competent and less confident movers as their peers. This is where physical literacy becomes a critical skill for early childhood educators to teach young children

A lack of physical literacy can be devastating. When children do not feel confident in their skills or abilities, they are less inclined to nurture their own development. In order for at-risk children to develop the skills needed to engage in physical activity, they must be taught physical activity skills.  

Development and Physical Literacy

Physical Literacy can be achieved using both structured and unstructured activity.

Structured activity is planned and directed. It is designed for a child’s  developmental level.  It is organized activity with an instructional purpose.  Unstructured activity is  self-directed.  It occurs as children explore their environment. It is an opportunity for children to make up games, rules,and play with others.

Physical literacy should be taught developmentally in various stages so that children gradually harness their skills before they progress forward.

In teaching physical literacy, it is crucial to start at fundamental movement levels. As children grow and develop, their muscles and surrounding tissue strengthen, eventually granting them greater control of their bodies. There is a reason why toddlers movements seem unstable. Because young children do not yet have mature enough brain function to control the movements of their bodies, they are unable to coordinate certain movements. One must recognize there is a wide range of motor development between birth and age 7. While some children can achieve success at a skill such as skipping by age 4, there are others who may not achieve success until age 7.

Early Childhood (3-5 and for some to age 7) is the perfect time to teach fundamental basic locomotor and object control skills. Locomotor skills include the basic skills of walking, running, hopping, jumping, side-sliding, leaping and skipping. Object control skills include rolling, tossing, throwing, catching, kicking, and striking. It is important to note that children do not come into this world with the innate knowledge of these skills. these basic locomotor and object control skills must be taught.  Early childhood educators should not try to achieve movement perfection at this age, but exposing young children to opportunities to develop movement skills,  hand-eye coordination,  and foot-eye coordination. When children practice these skills, their level of comfort and confidence increases and their fear decreases.

While young children’s movement and skills develop naturally, there are tools and resources that can help progress the process.

SHAPE America recommends, “Preschoolers should be encouraged to develop competence in fundamental motor skills that will serve as the building blocks for future motor skillfulness and physical activity.“ Therefore, it would be not be recommended that preschoolers engage in organized games or sports because they have not yet developed basic locomotor skills or object control skills that would make the experience successful.  Rather, preschoolers would learn to self toss and catch fluffballs while engaging in an activity such as  catching and counting.

It is important to recognize that lessons and equipment be age appropriate.

The SPARK Early Childhood Physical Activity Program (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids) recommends age appropriate equipment that is colorful, lighter, larger, and easier to track for preschoolers along with academically integrated age appropriate lessons to promote physical activity. Music brings life to a physical activity session for young learners as they are naturally drawn to age appropriate movement music.

As children grow and mature, it is important to remember that if a child can’t master skills like running or catching, they are less likely to participate not only in organized sports, but even be included in unorganized play at recess or after school. By exposing  young children to structured physical activity , children are not only building physical skills – they are also building confidence.

Early Childhood is a time of discovery and growth, and with the health and confidence of children at stake, it is critical that children enjoy movement and play. What advice do you have for teaching children about physical literacy? Share your comments in the feedback section below!

 

3 Thanksgiving Themed Games to Play With Your Family

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

thanksgiving

Like most holidays, Thanksgiving is synonymous with gorging on scrumptious food. That can be great for your tastebuds, but not so nice for your physical health and well being.

The American Council on Exercise estimates that the average Thanksgiving meal — complete with turkey, gravy, side dishes, and dessert — is around 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat. That figure grows even further when you add in drinks and all-day snacking. To put it into perspective, those calories represent nearly twice the recommended daily calorie intake and more than four times the amount of fat a person is supposed to eat in one day.

Despite those figures, a big Thanksgiving meal is often an uncompromising part of family celebrations, and something to look forward to! With the onslaught of a food coma on the horizon, here are a few fun Thanksgiving themed activities so you can balance your Thanksgiving meal with some healthy activities this November.

Turkey Tag

This is a holiday adaptation of the beloved game of schoolyard tag. Turkey Tag can be played with small or large groups. Two players are designated turkeys, and given a rubber chicken or other item to indicate their role. They then run around the set play area trying to tag other players. Once tagged, players are transformed into turkeys and must move around the play area flapping their “wings.” They’re stuck in that position until a non-tagged player taps them on the shoulder.

Turkey Tag is a perfect activity if you have limited resources and a large group of people. Plus the rules are easy to explain and understand, and your kids will love transforming the older members of the group into gobbling turkeys.

Capture the Turkey

Inspired by the game Capture the Flag, Capture the Turkey is perfect for large families who can create 2 or more teams of 7 to 10 people. Each team should be indicated by a different color shirt or some other identifying clothing.

Divide a large playing space so each team has its own “turkey farm” territory and within it, a small turkey pen and turkey jail area. Within their respective turkey pens, each team will have a rubber chicken or a construction paper turkey that needs to be captured by an opposing team. The premise of the game is to capture this turkey without being tagged by a member of the opposite team.

If tagged, players move to the turkey farm jail and must squawk loudly so a team member knows to come and save them. A team wins once they’ve successfully kidnapped the other team’s rubber turkey and brought it back to their turkey farm.

Capture the Turkey is a good choice for middle school aged children and their family members.

Turkey Trot

Like Turkey Tag, Turkey Trot can be played with small or large groups of people. Divide your family members and friends into groups of two, and have one person pick up a rubber turkey or some other small item that’s easy to throw.

Teams should then be positioned a few paces from one another in the playing area. Players toss the turkey back and forth to music being played in the background. Once that music stops, the person with the turkey must run from their partner in an attempt to continue hanging onto the turkey. If they’re tagged, they must surrender the turkey to their partner and flap their wings and gobble three times before they’re able to try and recapture the bird. When the music restarts, partners go back to tossing the rubber turkey between themselves.

This game builds a number of essential skills such as hand-eye coordination and running, making it an especially good game for younger children still developing motor skills.

There you have it — three activities that will help mitigate the factors of an indulgent Thanksgiving dinner, not to mention get you outside when all you want to do is participate in an all day snack-fest. Try them out this Thanksgiving — at the very least, we promise they’ll increase your appetite for your Thanksgiving feast!

The Benefits of Physical Education for Children with Special Needs

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

special needs

Exercise can provide significant benefits for children in all of the developmental stages of life. It only makes sense, then, that regular participation in physical education classes would also promote positive advancements in students with special needs.

Research has shown that physical education programs can do a great deal to improve the lifestyle of children with special needs; they can increase competency in gross motor skills, help to control obesity, improve self-esteem and social skills, encourage an active lifestyle, and maintain motivation in various areas of life.

Considerations for Physical Education Teachers

Often, there are challenges to including children with disabilities in a physical education program. Parents may be apprehensive about allowing their child with special needs to participate in physical education activities. Studies have shown that special education students are less likely to enroll in physical education, and consequently, further studies have found that special education students are more at risk of developing childhood obesity than their general education peers. Yet, many resources have begun to make it easier to include children with special needs in physical education endeavors.

Physical education teachers simply need to determine the abilities of students with special needs, and the measures that may need implementing to support their participation in sports and fitness. Some children with difficulties may need DAPE (developmental adapted physical education) to help promote physical fitness, fundamental motor skills, and more, whereas others will simply need the support and encouragement to participate in regular physical education activities.

Following, we’ll address just some of the amazing benefits students with special needs can experience with the right exposure to regular activity.

  1. Physical Improvements

A scientific study into disability groups has found that participation in physical activity and sport leads to improved levels of well-being and physical health. Children who have a diagnosed intellectual disability may have additional physical disabilities which can result in below age-level performance in typical motor skills. Regular involvement in physical education and sport can help them to develop the skills they need.

When encouraged to participate in frequent fitness measures, many students with special needs see improvements in everything from their hand-eye coordination and flexibility, to their muscle strength, endurance, and even cardiovascular efficiency. These are all simply the natural benefits of exercise — a development of better motor skills and enhanced physical health that helps individuals to fight back against problems such as obesity, and the health complications that follow.

  1. Mental Improvements in Confidence and Well-Being

Regular exposure to sports through physical education classes isn’t only good for a child’s body — it’s beneficial to their mind, too. Physical activity improves general mood and wellness in psychiatric patients suffering from anxiety and depressive disorders. What’s more, regular fitness links to improvements in self-esteem, social awareness, and self-confidence — all essential for empowering the lives of young people with special needs.

Providing a physical outlet may help students reduce or cope with anxiety, stress and depression — while interaction and involvement with other students will help to give children a sense of accomplishment and confidence. For students with special needs, developing a sense of self-esteem can be particularly important, as they may often feel isolated and removed from the group. These children (They)  need their physical education teachers to involve them in environments where they can feel as though they’re successfully contributing to a group (can feel successful or are successful), and their abilities in other areas will improve according to  (as a result of) their positive self-image and confidence.

  1. Behavioral Improvements in Attention, Relationships, and Academics

Finally, the hands-on nature of physical education leads to cognitive improvements in children with special needs, allowing them to access skills that they couldn’t challenge within a traditional classroom setting. The structure of sport – which comes with a set of rules and organization, can be a learning tool that helps children to practice self-regulation and enhance their decision making skills. On top of that, children with special needs can learn to focus on specific goals, and work on their verbal communication by interacting with peers through sport.

Physical education is about a lot more than simply learning how to engage in a particular sport — it teaches children a range of skills, from how to work as a team, to how to solve problems, increase attention span, and focus on task-based behavior. Eventually, those skills can transfer into other classroom settings too, so that students with special needs have a greater ability to learn and engage with their peers outside of physical education.

The Importance of Physical Education for Special Needs Children

Scientific research has demonstrated repeatedly that physical education can enhance academic performance and cognitive function. However, for children with special needs, it’s valuable for so many reasons, from providing an opportunity to build collaborative and social skills, to teaching individuals how to focus on specific goals and overcome obstacles. Parents and teachers are encouraged to find creative ways to implement reasonable accommodations to ensure that all students with special needs can be successful in physical education and the school environment.

The Benefits of Phys Ed for Students with ADHD

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

physical education

The positive effects of physical education are well-documented, but daily exercise is especially beneficial for those students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

11% of all American children between ages 4 and 17 have ADHD, with that number projected to rise steadily each coming year. Children are usually diagnosed at the age of 7, the exact point in their lives when physical education curriculums can stand to have the greatest impact.

The mental benefits of physical activity could have a positive effect on students with ADHD.

Physical Activity and Attentiveness

A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics noted the effect of physical activity on the attentiveness and academic performance of 10-year-old boys and girls, half of whom had ADHD. That research found that after just 20 minutes of exercise and movement, the students were able to better regulate their behavior and focus, improving scores on math and reading comprehension tests.

The Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute found that daily physical education can lead to a state of relaxation that can last for up to two hours, impacting a child’s ability to problem solve, concentrate, and be creative in class. In the long term, the institute says participation in one physical education class a day can increase confidence and self-esteem, which can be beneficial in environments where children with ADHD. aren’t always perceived the most positively. Daily exercise can also help relieve anxiousness, a symptom of ADHD.

So powerful are the effects of exercise on the brain that some experts say it could be as effective a tool as medication. Thomas Lenz, an associate pharmacy professor at Creighton University in Nebraska, told LiveScience that both exercise and medication release dopamine and norepinephrine, two chemicals that help students with ADHD. maintain better focus.

More Formal Physical Education

While unstructured movement and play can have a positive effect on students with ADHD, so too can more regimented physical education activities.

At University College Shaker Campus in Ohio, the physical education program incorporates a blend of exercise and discipline for students with ADHD. Students are asked to categorize their desired behavior in the class at one of five levels, ranging from irresponsibility to caring. Throughout the class, students are encouraged to remember the level they hope to achieve, in order to ensure they’re working towards the goal throughout the class. Over time, this combination of exercise and mindfulness is thought to extend beyond the walls of the phys ed class to transform the way an ADHD student treats their other teachers, family, and friends.

At the end of the day, there is no cure-all for students with ADHD, but there are definitely ways to better accommodate them in school. According to the research above, ensuring all students have access to regular physical ed class is one of them.

The Benefits of Teaching with Stations

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

PE

There are many struggles that come with being a physical education teacher. Luckily, there are techniques and solutions to minimize some of the stress. One solution to managing your students and boosting their engagement is to teach with stations. This is a teaching method where you create three or more activities for the period.

Divide your class up evenly and start each group at a different station. Students get a certain amount of time with each activity and then rotate to the next station. It’s an alternative to whole-group instruction and can have many benefits. Consider these reasons you might want to teach with stations in your physical education class.

1. It Keeps Students Engaged

If you have students who dislike PE class, then use stations to create a more interesting and dynamic PE period. Students will be continuously moving, whether they’re performing exercises at their station or moving on to the next one. Because they only spend a short amount of time at each station, it’s less likely that they’ll become bored or distracted.

2. It Gives Students a Better Workout

Using different activities throughout the period helps students get a better workout because they’ll be using different muscle groups for the various activities. Plus, it gives you a chance to mix cardio and strength training into the day’s activities. When designing your activities, consider making each focus on a different part of the body. For example, one station could focus on sit-ups while another activity could be doing pushups.

3. It Divides the Class into Manageable Groups

It can be difficult to watch so many kids at once, especially in PE class where they’re expected to be highly active instead of sitting behind a desk. Splitting the class into groups so all stations are filled at once makes it easier to manage groups and focus on each individual student’s performance. With this method, you can have one teacher or aide help watch over each station or divide the stations up.

Downsides to Teaching with Stations

While there are many benefits of teaching with stations, there are a couple of downsides, too. For one, it takes more manpower because you need an adult at several stations to watch over and instruct their group. It can also take more setup and teardown time for each station. Because of this, try to plan the same stations for all your classes throughout the day so that setup and teardown is easy.

Tips for Teaching with Stations

If you like the idea of setting up stations for your classes, consider these tips:

  • Set up the stations on the outside perimeter of the gym or in a circle in an outdoor field. This makes it easier for students to move from one station to the next in a circular progression.
  • Use Sportime ShoulderFolders on the cones to hold station cards with instruction for each station. If you have the SPARK curriculum, station cards are included in the SPARKfolio or available to download and print with your SPARKfamily.org membership.
  • Plan a signal — such as the start and stop of music — that will tell kids to move onto the next station. This will keep things flowing smoothly and save the time and hassle of going from one station to the next.
  • Before you begin the rotations, briefly explain the purpose of each station to the whole class, and demonstrate the activity if needed. This saves time once each group arrives at the station so you don’t have to repeat the instructions as often.
  • Keep music playing during the period so students can keep up with the fast pace of the rotations. Music also keeps them energized to make the activities more enjoyable.
  • Need materials to set up stations in your PE class? The new Sportime Middle  School and High School Fitness Packs include hand-selected fitness equipment and SPARK digital curriculum with station cards.

With these benefits and tips in mind, you can create a fun, interactive physical education period for your students. What types of stations and activities are you thinking about setting up in your PE class?

Adapted Physical Activities for Recess

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

physical activities

Recess can be the most fun part of a child’s school day, and it’s important for any planned activities to be inclusive for all students.

That’s where adapted physical activities come in. These are activities that have been changed in one way or another to accommodate students who have sensory, motor and/or intellectual disabilities. The tools used in adapted physical activities are also often changed to fit students’ needs, and can include the use of textured sensory balls and padded equipment.

Adapted physical activities aren’t just for students with disabilities, and the right activity can be fun for all students to play together. They key is to have the proper equipment and supervision on hand so that all children participate equally.

Schoolyard Soccer

Soccer is one of the most popular recess sports, and can be easily adapted to allow for inclusion. Some strategies include:

  • Have students walk rather than run;
  • Use a slightly deflated ball, it rolls slower; or adapted equipment that is brightly colored, softer, larger, and/or is textured;
  • Make the playing area smaller and have less students on the field;
  • Ensure a teacher or student is on hand to blow a whistle or call out when a goal has been scored.

The above strategies aren’t dramatic shifts from soccer as we know it, but they do make the game more approachable for students with mobility issues and visual impairments.

Jump Rope

Jump rope can be an excellent way to increase both cardio levels and coordination. It can also be an excellent adapted physical education activity for recess.

One adapted technique is to have students change the way they move the rope. Rather than moving it in circles, try instead having two students hold the rope stationary at a height low to the ground. Students can then jump over the unmoving rope, mastering the movement it takes to jump rope the traditional way. Students without disabilities can be challenged by having the rope raised higher and higher with each subsequent jump. Students holding the rope need to hold it loosely that it comes out of their hands if a jumper trips over the rope, especially for students with limited gross motor skills.

For students who want to jump rope the traditional way, brightly colored ropes or a beaded rope can help increase awareness of when a child needs to successfully jump. The students turning the rope can also call out each time a student’s feet are supposed to leave the ground.

SHAPE America recommends ditching the skipping rope all together. By drawing a target on the ground, students can pretend to jump rope while hopping on and off that specific marker. That allows children to attain the same level of fitness and improve their coordination, without the pressure or frustration of having to keep the rope moving.

For students who can’t jump or children in wheelchairs, jump ropes can be an excellent tool to create a simple obstacle course on a smooth playground surface. Create a series of wavy lines or circles using the rope and have children run, walk, or wheel alongside that course.

Softball

Like soccer, this is another popular recess sport that can be made more inclusive. Recess supervisors should consider the following adaptations:

  • Use a velcro ball and provide those students with gross motor delays a velcro mitt;
  • Limit the pitching distance and have a batting tee on hand for students who have trouble with hand-eye coordination;
  • Reduce the distance between bases and have students without disabilities give tagging leeway for their classmates with a disability;
  • Replace bats with a tennis racquet for students who may have a hard time hitting the ball;
  • Have a bright colored, soft, or beeping ball that is better seen and heard by students with a visual impairment.

Since softball places the focus on one student at a time, it’s an easier activity to adapt for a child’s individual needs, regardless of whether or not they have a disability.

The key to incorporating adapted physical activity into recess is to ensure there’s buy-in from all children. This should be no problem at all if you maintain the tried and true elements of play: movement, laughter, and the opportunity to have fun.

 

10 Traits of Great PE Teachers

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

PE teacher

Any aspiring Physical Education teacher has to have certain traits to be successful. PE teachers have to be good in the classroom, but they also have to be able to work with parents and other educators. Good PE teachers need to have a range of skills beyond knowing sports, including interpersonal skills, creativity, and more.

Athletic Ability
It seems obvious, but having a healthy body is important for a PE teacher. Since PE teachers are telling students to make healthy choices, these adults have to model what they say to do. PE teachers don’t need to be star athletes, but having a positive attitude toward fitness and instruction is important to show students how living healthy can be enjoyable.

Teaching Ability
This is another trait that seems apparent, but a good Physical Educator needs to be able to educate. Being able to distill complex ideas into easily followed steps helps your students feel better about physical activity. Being able to teach also includes being able to recognize which students need more encouragement or a different way of explaining, and assessing learning.

Interpersonal Skills
Working with students, parents, and other teachers requires a range of interpersonal skills. Being a teacher means being a leader and role model to your students. A physical education teacher is a model of values such as leadership, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. Treating the people around you with respect makes them more likely to respect you and your program.

Communication
Being able to communicate effectively is another important skill. Clear communications to your students helps them learn your lessons and keeps them safe. Communicating with parents and other professionals respectfully shows how you treat your students in your program. Effective communication builds a sense of community where students feel confident in their abilities. With greater confidence and support, students are more likely to embrace physical activity as a source of fun.

Patience and Adaptability
Patience and adaptability are important to a successful teaching career. Since not all students learn in the same way or the same rate, it’s important to stay patient and have different approaches. It’s also important to adapt and modify lessons to include students of different levels and abilities. Some schools have no dedicated PE area, so being able to change your lesson plans to adapt to weather or available resources keeps your lesson plans on track.

Organization
As a PE teacher, you might be teaching students who have different ages, physical abilities, and learning styles. In addition, PE teachers often have to work in different areas or even multiple schools. Being organized keeps all of these needs together and easy to manage. Keeping the classes themselves organized keeps them flowing, limits downtime, and lessens chances for conflict and behavior issues. Any PE class involves students, physical area, and equipment, so keeping all of these things organized makes the entire class run smoothly and maximizes learning opportunities.

Creativity
Being able to adapt and find new activities keeps your classes entertaining and fun for everybody. You can find inspiration for your classes in television, music, and other classes. You can take ideas from all around you to make engaging and fun activities for students of all physical abilities. Having a variety of activities and outcomes keeps students engaged and interested in your classes.

Focus on the Students
As an educator, you need to make sure your students are learning. Being an educator means you need to have a passion for helping children learn skills they can use in their daily lives outside of the classroom. Working with children can be taxing, so keeping that passion going helps you make your classes instructional and fun. You also need to keep your students safe and secure during class, since they’re moving around and in large areas with different equipment.

Becoming a PE teacher is no easy task for any aspiring educator. Being a role model, having professional skills, and creating a fun environment are all crucial traits to have as a great PE teacher. Keeping your time organized and communicating clearly to students, parents, and other educators also makes your job easier and more enriching.

How Much Do You Know About Different Learning Styles? [QUIZ]

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

There are a variety of different learning styles; are you familiar with all of them and how they affect students’ ability to retain information? Test your knowledge of different learning styles with our quiz.

 

Ice Breakers to Get Kids Moving

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

ice breaker

Cultivating a comfortable classroom environment for students is crucial to how well they perform. Physical education classes in particular tend to come with a little more anxiety for some kids and a feeling of confidence is the key to their success.

One of the easiest ways to get new students acquainted with your PE classroom is through ice breaking games. Take a look at few you should try to help your class get moving.

Name Memory Game

Help students gain confidence in class and learn each other’s names through this classic – with a physical education twist. Have the class stand in a large circle that includes the teacher. Start by saying your name and doing some sort of physical movement (clap, stomp, jump, or spin around). The person to your left repeats your name and movement, and adds his or her own. The next person repeats both and adds a third. This repeats all the way around the circle, with the teacher going one last time to repeat everyone’s name and movement.

Cacophony

Have students arrange in a circle and hold hands. This game starts with the leader (usually the teacher) making a sound. He or she then squeezes the hand of the person to the left and continues to make the sound. The new person also starts making a sound and squeezes the hand of the next student who does the same. Soon the entire circle is a chorus of chosen sounds. When the hand squeeze returns to the game leader, he or she stops making the sound and squeezes the hand of the next person on the left who also goes silent. This continues until every sound has ceased.

Grab It

This game is best for preschool or early elementary students. Use a bean bag or another small object and pair up students who sit, facing each other, with the object in between them. When the teacher yells “Grab it!” the first person to pick up the object gets a point. Teachers can increase the difficulty by yelling things other than the command, and deducting a point if anyone is fooled.

7 Buzz

This game is best for students in upper elementary or middle school. The group forms a circle and each person takes a turn counting, in sequence, until the number 7 or a multiple of it is called. The person who should speak that number yells “Buzz!” instead and the circle reverses. To make the game even more challenging, use a lower number like 5 or 3.

What Am I Doing?

Divide the number of students in your class by 2 and then have them number off from 1 until the halfway number, and then again. Have the students with matching numbers pair up and stand next to each other in the large circle. Start with the team to the left of the teacher and have them go to the center of the circle. One student will start doing an action, like pretending to mow the lawn, and will ask the other student “What am I doing?” Instead of answering with the real action, the second student will mention a new action. The first person must then do it, while the second then asks “What am I doing?” You can put a limit on the amount of times the pair performs, or just let them go until they lose sync or are laughing too hard to go on. This is an especially good exercise to get new people to meet and interact, instead of sticking with the people they already know.

 

First days are hard – for students and teachers. Ice breakers that incorporate movement can help students loosen up and will help you get to know them a little better too.

East St. Louis School District 189 – PEP Grant Case Study

Friday, October 7th, 2016

East St Louis Blog pic 1

Putting Some PEP in Their Step

The East St. Louis School District didn’t have much of a PE program in its elementary schools; in fact, for over five years, it didn’t have any PE at all. Budget cuts and limited local funding for a school with a 100% free and reduced lunch rate led to the cutting of PE, which did not serve to improve an already high obesity rate among students. Things were about to change for the better in 2014 when the district applied for, and won, the Carol M. White PEP Grant.

East St. Louis School District 189 was in great need of evidence-based programming to transform their near non-existent PE program and student health statistics into an active, thriving, healthy program and student population. When they won the two-year grant, they sparked transformation right away in Year 1. Working with Cassie Wolvington, Sportime featuring SPARK Sales Representative, they ordered:

  • SPARK Curriculum Materials for K-12 Physical Education and After School,
  • Healthy Kids Challenge Nutrition Curriculum Materials for K-8
  • 5 Premium SPARK trainings for K-2, 3-6, Middle School, High School, After School
  • Modified Sportime equipment sets for K-12 and After School
  • Accusplit pedometers to track steps for grant reporting

To implement the new curriculum, training, and equipment, the district used PEP funding to hire four competent, creative, and energetic PE teachers.

Keeping up the positive momentum in Year 2, the district ordered:

  • Additional Curriculum Materials and Physical Education Equipment
  • SPARK Booster Trainings for K-2, 3-6, Middle School, High School, After School

Impressed with the great customer service and personal attention provided to them by their Sportime featuring SPARK Representative, they ordered an additional $145K worth of equipment.

Boys Track & Field Head Coach and PEP Grant Director Barry Malloyd commented on the experience, “Our district’s experience with SPARK has been life-changing for our PE teachers, students and parents. There is now a SPARK in our physical education programs like never before. The SPARK curriculum and trainings have provided our district with a SPARK of hope. The supplies, equipment, curriculum, trainings, and webinars that you provided us have catapulted our district’s PE program into the 21st Century. Our district administrators, PE teachers, students, and parents have given our PEP program a standing ovation because of our students’ drastic improvements in all areas of the GPRA Measures. It’s because of this SPARK that our district has some ‘PEP IN OUR STEPS!’”

Mr. Malloyd continued, “The benefits that our district is most excited about are the Fall and Spring SPARK trainings given to all of our district PE teachers and after school partners.  Also, the awesome supplies and equipment that you provide has made PE once again fun, exciting, and relevant in our school district. I could not and would not ever ask for another provider other than SPARK.”

From having no PE program to sparking a thriving, healthy, active PE program that is the envy of peer school districts – now that is a success story! Congratulations East St. Louis School District 189!

To learn more about the SPARK and PEP grant, click here.

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