Sports Play Active Recreation for Kids (SPARK)

San Diego State Research Foundation


Sports Play Active Recreation for Kids (SPARK) has numerous evidence-based programs designed to improve health that target areas such as physical education, after school, early childhood and coordinated school health. SPARK aims to develop healthy lifestyles, movement knowledge, motor skills, and social and personal skills. SPARK programs include a package of highly active curriculum, training for teachers, extensive follow-up support and content-matched equipment that help to foster environmental and behavioral changes. SPARK curriculum is aligned with numerous state and national standards.

Target Behavior: Physical Activity

Intervention Type: Direct Education, Social Marketing, PSE Change

Intervention Reach and Adoption

SPARK targets pre-K through 12th grade students. The program is designed to be implemented by teachers and recreation leaders in settings such as school physical education classes, recess, after school programs, and early child care settings.

Setting: Child Care, School

Target Audience: Preschool (<5 years old), Elementary School, Middle School, High School

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

Each SPARK program includes a variety of components including project coordination from SPARK staff, curriculum containing lesson plans with hundreds of physical activities, training, content-matched equipment, assessment/evaluation tools, and lifetime follow-up support. SPARK also offers a SPARK Certification and units of college credit for completing 12 hours of SPARK training in a subject area. A variety of other resources and trainings to support program implementation including webinars, conferences/workshops, and an eNewsletter are also available. Those who purchase a SPARK curriculum set gain full access to additional content on

Intervention Materials

Intervention materials include a curriculum manual with hundreds of different activities, a music CD, SPARKfolio with additional resources and evaluation tools, and equipment needed to lead the activities in the SPARK manual. provides access to additional resources. Information on how to order materials can be found here:

Intervention Costs

SPARK Curriculum – the “what to teach” is available for $99.95 – $399 depending on the option selected – digital only (1 yr or 3 yrs) or digital plus printed manual and music cd or digital plus printed manual, music cd and folio box. SPARK Training/Staff Development – the “how to teach” is available as 1-day training (6 hrs) or 2-days training per program + travel costs. Training cost is for a maximum 40 participants. Based on SPARK research, the gold-standard is the 2-Day training know as the Premium Program and each participants earns SPARK Certification as SPARK Certified Instructor (not status as SPARK Certified Trainer – this is different) – completed the essential training needed or successful implementation. SPARK also offers online SPARK professional development at $39.95 per credit or $539 for 16 credits. 16 credits = SPARK Premium Program. SPARK Equipment – the “tools to teach”available for purchase as a pack or individual items. Cost varies. SPARK does offer many FREE resources – sample lesson plans, 50+ professional development webinars, grant finder, & more.

Evidence Summary

SPARK has been extensively evaluated and has had numerous publications present positive results. Evidence of achievement has been shown in a variety of areas, including:

  • Physical activity
  • Physical fitness
  • Lesson context and teacher behavior
  • Academic achievement
  • Motor skill development
  • Student enjoyment of the program
  • Adiposity
  • Long term effects/institutionalization

A list of publications and research outcomes on SPARK can be found here:

Classification: Research-tested

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Individual ST3 MT3 LT3
Environmental Settings ST5, ST6, ST7 MT6 LT6, LT7, LT8, LT9, LT10, LT11
Sectors of Influence MT12

Evaluation Materials

SPARK provides evaluation tools and consultation on their use to organizations purchasing a SPARK program. Evaluation tools include:

  • Formative/Needs Assessment
  • Workshop Evaluation
  • Program Evaluation
  • Lesson Quality Assessments

Additional evaluation tools, such as tools for measuring moderate to vigorous physical activity and student assessments are also available:

Additional Information

Website: The SPARK website ( includes a variety of resources including information on the different SPARK programs, webinars and training opportunities, grant finder, and ordering instructions.

Contact Person(s):
2525 Lemond St. SW 
Owatonna, MN 55060 
Phone: 1-833-73-SPARK