After-School SPARK Initiative
Sports, Play, Active, Recreation for Kids (SPARK) is an evidence-based program aimed at increasing the physical activity levels of participating children in the after-school setting. In 2005, Health Foundation awarded $351,487 to the YMCA/YWCA to implement SPARK in 15 after-school sites. The results of this initial pilot project demonstrated that the overall activity level comparison from baseline to follow-up went from 44.4% MVPA (moderate to vigorous physical activity) to 59.6% MVPA. This exceeds the Healthy People 2010 goal of 50% MVPA. Sedentary activity level decreased from about 55% to 40% at the outcome measure.
The program also showed increases in the physical fitness measures of participating children. Due to the demonstrated effectiveness of the pilot program, the Foundation partnered with The Children’s Trust to expand the SPARK program into an additional 40 after-school sites. The total amount invested in this initiative is $250,225 with the Foundation providing $107,500 for project monitoring and evaluation and The Children’s Trust $142,725 for equipment and training of after-school staff. Through this expansion and continuation project, the Initiative was able to reach 3,000 children in 55 after-school sites. As of October 2011, The Children's Trust has continued to evaluate the impact of SPARK to determine whether SPARK implementation will be required as part of all contracts with after-school providers.
In October of 2009, the After-School SPARK Initiative spread to Broward County. In partnership with the Children Services Council of Broward County, more than 180 staff were trained and over 80 sites are implementing SPARK. Monitoring and evaluation is being conducted of project impact. Sedentary activity percentages at the sites decreased while vigorous activity scores increased by nearly 4.20 percentage points at pretest. This was consistent with programmatic goals, indicating that the program was effective. Given these preliminary findings, both the Foundation and CSC are in conversations to work on an expansion and sustainability model for SPARK for all sites in Broward County.