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SPARK Partners With WE CAN!


San Diego, CA, August 9, 2010 – Increasing physical activity is one of three critical behaviors that the We Can!® program (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) focuses on to help keep the whole family at a healthy weight. We Can!, developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provides parents, caregivers and whole communities with the science-based resources and strategies they need to encourage children ages 8 to 13 to eat right, reduce “screen time” and increase physical activity.

Physical activity is also the primary focus of We Can!’s new partner School Specialty SPARK™, a collection of research-based physical education and physical activity programs dedicated to promoting lifelong wellness among youth. School Specialty SPARK became a We Can! corporate partner in March 2010, and the organizations will work together to help children and families achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles. The original research study that was the foundation of the SPARK programs spanned from 1989-1994 and examined the importance of elementary physical education. SPARK research was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH, in conjunction with San Diego State University.

SPARK Executive Director Paul Rosengard adds, “While 1994 began the dissemination effort around SPARK’s elementary PE program, our team of researchers and educators continued working directly and indirectly with NIH through our middle school PE study (Project M-SPAN – Middle School Physical Activity and Nutrition) and a number of our university projects. We appreciate rekindling our NIH relationships and spreading the good word on We Can! and SPARK.”

The breadth of the SPARK program’s research activities and program offerings has steadily grown over the past two decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified SPARK as a national model for programs designed to increase physical activity and promote positive health behaviors.

In addition, SPARK programs have reached more than 100,000 teachers and youth leaders by disseminating evidence-based physical activity and nutrition programs that provide curricula, staff development, follow-up support, and equipment to teachers of pre-K through 12th grade students, nationally and globally.

Now, as a We Can! partner, SPARK trainers will participate in We Can! regional trainings around the country, helping communities build a healthier, more physically active generation of youth. More than 1,300 community sites across the U.S. and in 12 countries have registered to be part of the We Can! national movement to help children maintain a healthy weight.

In addition, the SPARK program provides a number of free resources to We Can! community sites, including webinar series, monthly eNewsletters, blogs, grant resources, guidance on standards alignment, publications, and more. Visit www.sparkpe.org for more details. For more information about We Can!, visit http://wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov.

About School Specialty School Specialty (NASDAQ: SCHS) is a leading education company that provides innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to help educators engage and inspire students of all ages and abilities to learn. The company designs, develops, and provides PreK-12 educators with the latest and very best curriculum, supplemental learning resources, and school supplies.

School Specialty 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.

For more information about School Specialty, visit www.schoolspecialty.com. For more information on SPARK, visit www.sparkpe.org or email spark@sparkpe.org or call 1-800-SPARK-PE.
For more information on this article and/or for a phone interview, contact Billy Beltz, Marketing Director, at bbeltz@sparkpe.org or 1-800-SPARK-PE x2247.


We Can!, Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition, We Can!, and the We Can! logos are registered trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Participation by School Specialty does not imply endorsement by DHHS/NIH/NHLBI.

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