Jefferson Middle School has been awarded a Shape the State grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation to upgrade its physical education program.

The grants, valued at $10,000 each, provide the nationally acclaimed Sports Play and Active Recreation for Kids (SPARK) physical education curriculum, teacher training and equipment for each recipient school. In addition, Jefferson received $1,000 to spend on PE, nutrition and wellness efforts. Members of the Physical Education Department worked with Oak Ridge Schools Office of Coordinated School Health to write the grant.

“We are very thankful to BlueCross for this providing schools in Tennessee with this wonderful grant opportunity.  Jefferson Middle School students will benefit from the wonderful SPARK equipment.  We are excited to implement the curriculum into our physical education program,” stated JMS Physical Education teacher Katie Bolling.

“We’re thrilled to be able to help transform PE at these schools,” said Dawn Abel, BlueCross director of community relations and foundations. “Since 2011 we’ve seen nothing but positive results from the 100 schools that have received Shape the State grants.”

SPARK focuses less on traditional team sports, and more on fun, active games that all students can enjoy together, regardless of their level of athleticism.

Katie Bolling, Nelson Glover and Brian Wilson recently received training from SPARK professionals on how to use the program with their students. In addition, they received complete SPARK curriculum materials, as well as 800 pieces of accompanying equipment, ranging from the odd – rubber chickens – to more traditional items, such as soccer balls.

SPARK was launched in 1989 after being developed by researchers at San Diego State University. Since then, its evidence-based curriculum has been used in public schools, YMCAs and other settings across the nation.

About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc. was established in December, 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The foundation awards grants focused on high-impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all Tennessee residents. Working with civic and economic partners, The foundation is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.