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Press Release: MHC Coalition in Virginia Works to Further Improve the Health of Henry County Youth by Implementing the SPARK Physical Education Program

The MHC Coalition received a Healthy Communities Action Team (HCAT) Grant to provide SPARK After School curriculum, equipment and training for 40 staff members

San Diego, CA, November 13, 2012 — The Martinsville/Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness in Martinsville, Virginia is implementing the SPARK After School program this fall at after school program sites in an effort to promote physical activity and combat childhood obesity in the area. The training was funded by the Healthy Communities Action Team (HCAT) Grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY). This grant paid for curriculum, equipment and training for 40 staff members from 12 after school program sites. SPARK is the provider of the world’s most researched physical education program and a division of School Specialty.

“In our after school programs, we had physical activity, but not necessary coordinated physical activity,” said Kayla Craddock, Community Health Educator at the MHC Coalition. “There wasn’t enough variety to keep the kids interested. We know that if we had SPARK training, we could get our instructors to see that this isn’t just about doing something with the kids, but it’s about getting the kids excited.”

The MHC Coalition area is experiencing an alarmingly high childhood obesity rate. The obesity rate for children ages 10-17 in Southwest Virginia is 28 percent, making it the highest obesity rate in the state. Both the VFHY and HCAT have worked with the MHC Coalition to create the first ever childhood obesity task force with the goal of creating a strong network of resources for children and their families. The MHC Coalition’s implementation of SPARK is an additional source for staff to use to promote a healthy learning environment.

“We are trying to take what’s already going on and make it have a bigger impact,” said Craddock. “We hope that utilizing SPARK on a small scale will build interest for future programs.”

About The MHC Coalition
The Martinsville/Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness is committed to providing medical and primary health services at Bassett Family Practice, our Federally Qualified Health Center, and to promoting health, reducing health risk factors and increasing access to medical services, primarily for the uninsured and underserved in the Martinsville Henry County area. The Coalition offers medication assistance, chronic disease self-management, aerobics and other fitness classes and care coordination services to its patients and local residents.

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.

About School Specialty
School Specialty (NASDAQ: SCHS) is a leading education company that provides innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to help educators engage and inspire students of all ages and abilities to learn. The company designs, develops, and provides PreK-12 educators with the latest and very best curriculum, supplemental learning resources, and school supplies. For more information about School Specialty, visit www.schoolspecialty.com.

Media Contacts:

Billy Beltz
SPARK Marketing Director
800-772-7573 x2247
Billy.Beltz@schoolspecialty.com

Kati Elliott
Public Relations for SPARK
410-975-9638
Kati@kehcomm.com

Rachael Ballard
Public Relations for SPARK
410-975-9638
Rachael@kehcomm.com

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