ETR Welcomes Jamie Sparks in Drive to Advance Health Equity
ETR has appointed Jamie Sparks as its School Health Program Manager. In this role, Sparks will be telling the HealthSmart story and discussing how this curriculum fits in a comprehensive health education program. Sparks brings a wealth of experience with health education on a local, state and national level, and most recently was the School Health and Physical Education Network Director at the Kentucky Department of Education.
Sparks is joining ETR at an exciting and critical time, as the company continues its ground-breaking work innovating, designing and developing science-based resources and products to improve health and increase opportunities for youth, families and communities. With the implementation of ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), states and school districts have more freedom to determine how best to invest in programs and activities that support a well-rounded education to meet the needs of their unique populations.
The “conversations around educational priorities are shifting,” notes Sparks, and “health education is identified in ESSA as one of the subjects essential to a well-rounded education.” With a preponderance of research indicating a strong connection between students’ health and their capacity for learning, “schools are able and ready to reimagine what they want to do for students and rethink how they deliver on their goals.”
With both a Bachelor of Arts in Health Education and Physical Education and a Master of Arts in School Guidance Counseling from Morehead State University, Sparks began his career as an elementary health and physical education teacher. Later he became a Physical Activity, Nutrition and Tobacco consultant at the Kentucky Department of Education and assumed the role of Project Director for the Coordinated School Health initiative.
Sparks has served in various leadership roles with the Kentucky Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (KAHPERD) and on the board of directors with the American School Health Association on both the advocacy and professional development committees. In March 2018, he was elected as the President for SHAPE America and will officially begin in that capacity in April 2019 for one year.
“Health equity within health education is truly the issue that has to be addressed to move the needle on truly impacting youth risk behaviors,” says Sparks. “From policy, to programs to practices; health equity needs to be the focus for all schools in all communities. I look forward to further cultivating these conversations thanks to ETR!”
ETR is a 35-year-old nonprofit 501(c)3 whose mission is to improve health and increase opportunities for youth, families and communities. ETR envisions a world where all people have the information, skills, and opportunities to lead healthy lives. ETR embraces the purposeful inclusion of all people as a means to honor and respect difference, and to elevate the strengths brought by diversity of experience, perspective, and expertise.