SPARK™ Principal Researcher Honored for Contributions to the Study of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Health

Dr. Thom McKenzie will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy Degree (Sport and Health Sciences) from Finland’s University of Jyväskylä

San Diego, CA, August 13, 2013 — On August 24, 2013, Dr. Thom McKenzie, principal researcher at SPARK™, will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy Degree (Sport and Health Sciences) from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. Dr. McKenzie is being recognized for his collaboration with the university and his continued efforts to promote the study of physical education, physical activity, and health.

Dr. McKenzie will be awarded the Honorary Doctorate during the Conferment of Degrees Ceremony, a ceremony held every four years. The 2013 Conferment of Degrees Ceremony will also specially recognize the 150th anniversary of the University of Jyväskylä and the 50th anniversary of Finland’s only Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences.  The current President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, will also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Sport and Health Sciences at the ceremony.

Dr. McKenzie has numerous professional contributions to the field of physical education, including co-authoring or authoring 200 papers and book chapters and presented over 400 papers at professional conferences. He is a fellow of four professional organizations—the  Research Consortium of AAHPERD, the National Academy of Kinesiology (NAK), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the North American Society of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance Professionals (NAS) – and has received many awards, including the AIESEP International Olympic Committee President's Prize for research and program development, the NASPE Hall of Fame Award and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Lifetime Achievement Award.

SPARK™, provider of the world’s most-researched PE program, is designed to be more inclusive, active and fun than traditional PE classes. SPARK lessons incorporate student-directed learning, differentiated instruction and sports education to motivate students to participate and develop a lifelong love of activity. SPARK has been proven to work with PE specialists, as well as classroom teachers, thus providing more opportunities for students to be physically active during the school day.  

For more information about SPARK and Dr. McKenzie, visit

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 or email spark(at)sparkpe(dot)org or call 1-800-SPARK-PE.