ANNIKA FOUNDATION AWARDS $100,000 TO FLORIDA’S ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR PHYSICAL EDUCATION

The ANNIKA Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to Orange County Public Schools to implement SPARK, the leading physical education program for children, in 20 elementary schools beginning in the 2012-2013 school year. Funding for this grant was provided to the ANNIKA Foundation by the BlueCross BlueShield of Florida Foundation through its Promising Practices grant program.

“Quality physical education is disappearing in schools across our country, but we want to change this trend in Central Florida,” said Hall of Fame golfer Annika Sorenstam, founder of the ANNIKA Foundation. “Experiencing SPARK at school will impact these kids in so many positive ways, teaching them the importance of physical activity, health and wellness.”

All Orange County Public School elementary schools are eligible for the individual grant package, valued at $5,000. The SPARK package includes training for the school’s PE instructor, curriculum kits for grades K-6, equipment for grades K-6, one year of free access to the SPARK online portal for PE teachers, SPARKfamily.org, a certification award for the PE instructor and a SPARK banner for the school.

School applications are due by April 12. Winning schools will be chosen by SPARK staff and notified in late May. Winners will be announced to the public immediately after. A media event is planned for June 12, 2012 at Edgewater High School in Orlando, where all SPARK physical education instructors will be trained.

The SPARK physical education program fosters environmental and behavioral change by providing a coordinated package of highly active curriculum, on-site teacher training, extensive follow-up support and content-matched equipment. SPARK has been honored as an Exemplary Program by the U.S. Department of Education.

The ANNIKA Foundation began awarding SPARK grants to schools in 2010, when it awarded similar grants to five Orange County Public Schools.

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About the ANNIKA Foundation
The ANNIKA Foundation teaches children the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition, and offers aspiring junior golfers opportunities to pursue their dreams. The Foundation has partnered with key organizations to promote healthy, active lifestyles for children, including SPARK, Florida Hospital for Children in support of its Healthy 100 Kids initiative and The First Tee in development of the Nine Healthy Habits curriculum for children. The Foundation annually conducts three major golf events for aspiring junior girls, including the award-winning ANNIKA Invitational at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Fla., the ANNIKA Invitational at Mission Hills in China for top Asian juniors; and the ANNIKA Cup, a team event for the top juniors in Sweden. More information about the ANNIKA Foundation can be found at http://www.annikafoundation.org.

About Orange County Public Schools
Orange County Public Schools is the 10th-largest school district in the nation and the fourth-largest in Florida. More than 180,000 students are enrolled in OCPS. Currently, there are more than 240 school sites including alternative centers and charter schools. OCPS is the second-largest employer in Orange County, Florida with more than 20,000 full and part-time employees.
More information can be found at http://www.ocps.net.

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 curriculum materials, teacher training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders, representing many thousands of schools, organizations, and agencies worldwide. SPARK also helps educators find physical education grants. For more information on SPARK, visit http://www.sparkpe.org or email spark@sparkpe.org or call 1-800-SPARK-PE.

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.

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