South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

High 5 Spark active recreation program for kids


Less than 25 percent of school-age children get even 20 minutes of rigorous daily physical activity, well below the minimum of 60 minutes prescribed by researchers.

Providing opportunities for fun, engaging activities for children is one of the ways we can help protect them from the health risks associated with physical inactivity and childhood obesity.

Highmark Healthy High 5 SPARK Active Recreation is a nationally-recognized program that provides children and adolescents ages 5-14 with a quality physical activity experience in an after-school or community program setting. The program has shown through scientific trials an increase in fitness levels in children as well as promoting life-long appreciation for movement that ultimately creates the basis for a healthier lifestyle and obesity prevention.

Children – no matter what their athletic ability or skill level – can participate in SPARK's non-competitive activities and games.

“Children who participate in SPARK have fun doing the games and activities. They don't even realize that they are getting their daily requirement of physical activity - and in turn are becoming healthier,” said Nate Duck, physical education coordinator, Hosanna House. “In a society that thrives on competition, we are thrilled to be conducting healthy programming that emphasizes cooperation as an alternative model. The healthy habits our children learn today will help them to have a brighter future.”

Through active participation in the SPARK program, instructors report that students show an increase and improvement in physical fitness scores, athletic skills such as throwing, catching and kicking, as well as improved self-esteem. The program is specially designed to boost heart rates, strengthen muscles and build endurance.

There are currently 65 active SPARK sites in Allegheny County with an estimated 5,500 children participating in the program.

Organizations that provide after-school programming or summer camps may qualify for no cost training in Highmark Healthy High 5 SPARK Active Recreation.

The two-day training session provides site leaders with SPARK Active Recreation program lesson plans, hands-on professional training and ongoing site support. Equipment is provided to ensure that every child has the opportunity to participate. Through its Highmark Healthy High 5 initiative, the Highmark Foundation recently awarded $88,000 in equipment grants to after-school and summer camp program providers across the 49 Pennsylvania counties it serves.

Area recreation centers that will be participating in the program include: Arlington Recreational Center, 2201 Salisbury Street; Phillips Recreational Center, 201 Parkfield Avenue; Youth Places – Beltzhoover, 329 E. Warrington Avenue; Youth Places – St. Clair Village, 930 Cresswell Street; and, Ormsby Recreational Center

79 S. 22nd Street.

To learn more about the Highmark Healthy High 5 SPARK Active Recreation Program or to register for one of the upcoming training sessions, call 1-800-652-9420 or visit,


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