Armstrong School District Finds School Specialty SPARK™ as Physical Education Provider
through National Institutes of Health We Can! Program
Prompted by data showing alarming rates of overweight conditions among children in their community, Armstrong County — through a collaborative called HEALTHY Armstrong –began working with We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition)®, a national childhood obesity prevention program developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The effort began back in September 2007, giving Armstrong County the distinction of being the first We Can! county in the nation. With the support of HEALTHY Armstrong, several programs have been implemented over the years with the goal of improving the health of the families community-wide.
So when HEALTHY Armstrong recently set out to increase students’ activity levels, it found the solution through We Can!. HEALTHY Armstrong chose School Specialty’s SPARK program, one of four youth curricula that fall under the We Can! umbrella, as their evidence-based physical education program for elementary schools throughout the Armstrong School District.
West Hills Primary School and others in the county realized that SPARK could help them quickly reach their goal of increasing the number of minutes students were active each day. SPARK activities could be easily incorporated into physical education class, after school programs, and recess to maximize student activity time and make a positive impact.
“We are so lucky to have incorporated SPARK into our day,” said Devin Lorigan, Health & Wellness coordinator for the Armstrong School District. “We teach the games to the students in physical education class and they use what they learned to play during recess. This gives all the students more opportunity for getting those hearts pumping. The teachers love it and the kids do, too!”
SPARK K-6 curriculum, training and equipment were provided to 18 teachers in November of 2010, impacting
over 2900 elementary students in Armstrong School District. SPARK implementation was funded by the Active
School Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and made possible by the contributions of
HEALTHY Armstrong and the UPMC Health Plan.