Campus: San Diego State University -- June 06, 2003
San Diego State Professor Receives International
Award For Contributions to Sport Pedagogy
Thomas McKenzie Credited with Developing National PE Curricula
Thomas L. McKenzie, a professor in San Diego State University’s
Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, has received a top
international award for his significant contribution to sport pedagogy.
McKenzie was awarded the International Olympic Committee President’s
Prize, the highest honor bestowed by the Association Internationale
des Ecoles Superieures d’Education Physique (AIESEP). He is only
the third American to win this honor since former IOC President Juan
Antonio Samaranch established the $10,000 prize in 1978.
The award honors McKenzie’s research, scholarship and program
development in the field of sport and exercise pedagogy for more than
two decades. It will be presented on July 30 at the opening of the AISEP
World Congress in Boston.
McKenzie is co-founder and intervention director of the Sports, Play
and Active Recreation for Kids (SPARK) program, which has been adopted
by more than 2,000 schools in 25 states. SPARK was only the second elementary
physical education (PE) program to be recognized as “exemplary”
by the National Diffusion Network of the U.S. Department of Education.
It provides teachers and schools with curricula and training that improve
standard PE by increasing the physical activity, fitness and movement
skills involved. SPARK also promotes health-related activity during
McKenzie said he appreciates the peer recognition of his work, but is
especially gratified that greater numbers of scientists and health practitioners
have sought to understand the importance of physical activity and fitness
in young people.
"I've been in this field more than 30 years,” he said. “Only
in the last decade has overwhelming evidence emerged to show the impact
that physical activity has in reducing young people’s risk for
serious public health problems that show up much later, including cardiovascular
disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Finding ways to increase the physical
activity of children should enable future generations of adults to be
healthier and enjoy a better quality of life as it helps society to
handle health care demands and costs."
In addition to SPARK, McKenzie has been a major investigator on five
other long-term, multidisciplinary projects funded by the National Institutes
of Health. He is currently involved in a five-year obesity prevention
study in Latino communities, and has worked on two separate intervention
studies of physical activity promotion in middle schools. He was also
the intervention chair of physical education for the multi-site Child
and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health (CATCH).
McKenzie’s projects paired him with SDSU colleagues in other disciplines,
notably James Sallis in the Psychology Department and John Elder in
the Graduate School of Public Health. Together, McKenzie and Sallis
have gained international recognition for their research on child and
adolescent physical activity.
Sallis, who first collaborated with McKenzie in 1985, praised his associate’s
skill and research methodology. “I’ve come to rely on Thom
for having one of a kind expertise,” Sallis said. “He trained
as a behavioral psychologist, which is rare in the PE field. Thom’s
studies rely on direct observation, which is a much better way to collect
information than asking people about their habits.”
McKenzie has authored more than 110 articles and book chapters on physical
activity, physical education, teacher preparation and applied psychology.
In the late 1980s, he was a sports psychology consultant for the U.S.
women’s volleyball team at the Seoul Olympic Games, the Pan American
Games and the World Championships. Born in Canada, he was a PE teacher,
coach and an assistant principal before joining San Diego State in 1980.
He holds a Ph.D. in pedagogy and applied behavior analysis from Ohio
CONTACT: Coleen Geraghty, SDSU Marketing & Communications,
(619) 594-1477, firstname.lastname@example.org