Local News

Program 'SPARKs' physical fitness for NC students

Posted February 25, 2011 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated February 25, 2011 7:15 p.m. EST

— About 43 percent of North Carolina’s elementary and middle school students have habits that could lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes later on in life, according to a study released this month from the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

The report, which looks at the results of fitness testing of more than 82,000 students, also found that 70 percent of school children don’t get the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended hour of daily exercise and that 47 percent spend two or more hours a day watching TV or on a computer.

A relatively new effort, called SPARK, aims to jump-start children into physical fitness in an effort to reduce the risks of obesity.

The program is being used for the first time this year in PE classes in Wake County schools.

“It’s a new movement of getting kids physically active for as long as possible in class,” says Wesley Lawson, a physical education teacher at Dillard Drive Elementary School.

The SPARK curriculum provides every student with the same high-quality, low-competitive physical education.

Instead of long periods of inactivity for roll call, stretching, activity demonstration and teaming, thousands of PE teachers in the state get students moving as soon as class begins.