SPARK [Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids], in its current form, is a brand that represents a collection of exemplary, research-based, physical education and physical activity programs that emphasize a highly active curriculum, on-site staff development, and follow-up support. Given its complexity (e.g., multiple school levels, inclusion of both physical education and self-management curricula), SPARK features both diverse instructional and diverse curricular models. SPARK programs were initially funded by the NIH as two separate elementary and middle school intervention studies, and the curriculum and instructional models used in them embody the HOPE (Health Optimizing Physical Education) model. This paper reviews background information and studies from both the initial grants (1989–2000) and the dissemination (1994-present) phases of SPARK, identifies program evolution, and describes dissemination efforts and outcomes. Procedures used in SPARK may serve as models for others interested in researching and disseminating evidence-based physical education and physical activity programs.
McKenzie is with Exercise & Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University, San Diego, California. Sallis is with Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California. Rosengard and Ballard are with SPARK Programs, San Diego, California. McKenzie and Sallis are SPARK co-founders. Rosengard was lead teacher and staff developer during SPARK intervention phases, and as Executive Director (1994-2015) was the person primarily responsible for its dissemination. McKenzie, Rosengard, and Sallis are SPARK Advisory Board members; Board members receive a stipend, but are without responsibility or authority for day-to-day operations. Ballard is the current SPARK Executive Director.