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After School

Research Background:

The SPARK After School (AS) Physical Activity Program began in 1995 as part of an effort to take lessons learned from the successful SPARK PE program and apply them to “out of PE” settings. PowerPlay, a research project in Memphis, TN and conducted in collaboration with the University of Tennessee, Memphis, involved 13, urban faith based centers.

After Power Play, SPARK participated in an after school/gender equity project with Work Family Directions in Boston. This project involved YMCA’s located in 15 U.S. cities and ran for 5 years. SPARK curricula and training were modified again and used to support the after school component for Project M-SPAN (Middle School Physical Activity and Nutrition), an NIH funded study of 24 middle schools from 1996-2000.

Finally, in the late 90’s, SPARK conducted their last after school testing project in partnership with CANFit (CA Adolescent Nutrition and Fitness). Project BOLT (Building Opportunities for Leisure Time) involved 15 after school programs in California (Parks and Recreation, Boys and Girls Clubs, and school district run efforts) and led to the writing of the SPARK Active Recreation manual, professional development program, and selection of content matched equipment.

Click Here to download a summary of SPARK After School research & outcomes.

Dissemination:

Today’s SPARK After School Program targets all out-of-school physical activity programs (e.g., after school, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, recreation center, day care center, or camps). Years of research and extensive field-testing throughout the country has shown SPARK After School to be effective for children and adolescents ages 5-14.

The SPARK after school philosophy: Include ALL youth, actively engage ALL youth, and instill the love of lifelong movement in ALL youth.

Program Components:

When an agency or organization chooses SPARK After School, they receive four components necessary for successful promotion of physical activity:

1.Curriculum:

An easy to use 3-ring binder (simply pull out a lesson, place it on a clipboard, and take it to class) with over 400 pages of cooperative, cultural and aerobic games, dances from around the world, and enjoyable skill and sport activities written in scope and sequence. There are also instructional units on jump rope, parachute play, jogging games, fitness circuits, and beanbag activities. But remember, this is SPARK! Activities are more inclusive, active, and enjoyable because they’ve been highly modified by our team of experts, and tested for effectiveness in hundreds of after school programs nationwide. The SPARK AS Manual is a practical document presented in a simple and easy to implement format. For more information on the After School Curriculum Manual, Click Here.

2.Training:

The focus of After School is to provide leadership techniques and activity ideas that encourage youth to be physically active. SPARK workshops are fun and “hands-on.” Youth leaders learn by doing and are motivated by SPARK’s dynamic and knowledgeable trainers. SPARK trainers travel the globe to provide workshops on days and at times that are convenient for everyone. For more information on SPARK After School Workshops, Click Here.

3.Equipment:

A select team of SPARK After School Program developers, curriculum writers, and workshop presenters meet annually to modify the equipment sets (a set includes every item needed to instruct everything in a SPARK manual) so they align perfectly with SPARK After School activities. For more information on After School Equipment sets, Click Here.

4.Follow-up Support:

For an after school program to work and last, ongoing consultation must be provided. SPARK is committed to extensive follow-up via their unique “SPARK Stars” institutionalization model, and myriad FREE value adds including lifetime support via 800 number and e-mail consultation, a monthly webinar series, social networking opportunities, and a monthly eNewsletter that includes SPARK updates and teaching tips. For more information on SPARK support, Click Here.

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