New Afterschool Program Engages Youth to Lead Active, Healthy Lives

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, March 25, 2013

Afterschool programs have the potential to teach youth how to enjoy and seek out physical activity while building a foundation for a healthier lifestyle, yet they often encounter obstacles including inexperienced staff, lack of a physical activity curriculum and limited space and equipment. In order to alleviate these barriers, afterschool programs need a plan that will not only increase physical activity through a wide range of activities, but provide a way for it to be done quickly and easily, even for the most inexperienced staff members.

In order to help afterschool programs maximize physical activity participation, SPARK has just launched a new version of their research-based Afterschool (AS) Program. The new SPARK AS program is built around an innovative, blended-media approach and includes revamped curriculum (digital and print), on-site staff training, and content-matched equipment.

The SPARK AS Program has several new features that make implementation easy for afterschool staff, including:

  • National alignment to President's Challenge, Let's Move, and NIOST Guidelines
  • New "Ready, Set, GO!" activity format on color-coded pages
  • More than 230 session plans
  • ASAP (Active Soon As Possible) energizers
  • Character Matters development resources
  • Right Fit suggestions for limited space, lack of equipment and varying age ranges

SPARK AS Program also includes STEM resources that reinforce the importance of a healthy mind and body and make connections between physical fitness and the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These activities include design plans, fitness challenges, and grab bag cards¾ printable activity slips that incorporate physical activity with math and science skills. Afterschool leaders can print, cut out and add the slips to a hat or bowl so children can randomly select activities.

About SPARK 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 educational resources, teacher training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders, representing many thousands of schools, organizations, and agencies worldwide. For more information on SPARK, visit www.sparkpe.org or call 1-800-SPARK-PE.