Why Support SparkTeams?

Several years ago, we created a Community feature called SparkTeams, which allow members of our site to find like-minded people with similar goals, interests and even geographic locations. Most Teams are created and led by members. They're a safe place to reach out for support, find new SparkFriends, and compete in friendly challenges led by Team leaders. (Learn more about SparkTeams here.)
We always knew that SparkTeams could become something bigger—even more important than a place for people to connect with others. That's because the Teams you've chosen say something about you, such as where you live, whom you care about, what you believe in, and how you view yourself (a parent, spouse, employee, citizen, soldier, fan and more).  
Each day, when you earn SparkPoints by completing various goals on the site, you'll have the opportunity to select a few SparkTeams from your list that you want to give extra support. By awarding a particular team with a bonus SparkPoints "spin" (the amount awarded is like a lottery scratch-off; you won't know what it will be until you click), it gives that Team an extra boost—a nod to the fact that we're all in this together and, as different as we are, we all have a common goal of improving ourselves—and helping the world around us. Your healthy deeds and bonus Points will help your favorite affinities rise the ranks on our leaderboards in a friendly competition that encourages everyone involved to stick with their own healthy program so that they can help the Team reach a larger goal.
So why does this matter? Why should you make it a point each day to give a bonus spin to your Teams?  
To answer that question, here's a little history about why this step is important for you—and others.
We tested this very concept on a local level in Cincinnati (SparkPeople's hometown) several years ago. On a basic website, people would log on, track their goals (we used exercise minutes instead of Points), and use that virtual currency to help their affinities rise the ranks on our leaderboards. Companies competed against each other. Nonprofits fought for the bragging rights. Sports fans from two local colleges went head to head—and more. In the process, individual "champions" emerged.
One woman named Lisa wrote to tell us that every morning, she would ask each of her co-workers, “Did you Spark today?” because she wanted to help her their employer's Team reach their goals—and do well in the leaderboard competition.
Another champion emerged at the local VA hospital.  That woman repeatedly reminded her co-workers of their goal to Children’s Hospital on the leaderboards! At the same time, my friend (and chairman of the board at Children’s Hospital) found out about this friendly "rivalry" and sent an email to his 7,000 hospital employees, to encourage them to use the program so their Team would win.  It became a back-and-forth battle--one in which there were no losers.
One of the best parts about the SparkPeople program is that we know the power of single individuals to motivate other people.  That’s why our underlying program is a combination of both health and fitness and is also integrated with skills like goal-setting, leadership, and motivation.  In other words, the program intentionally builds and trains people who can then go out and spark their friends, family, co-workers, and social networks—just like in the stories above. 
Best of all, we heard great success stories from this simple program.  People would say, “I joined just to help my organization win, but I lost 25 pounds while having fun!”  We realized we were onto something. We waited for the right time to launch a similar program on a national scale—and here it is!
How You Can Help: Be a Champion for Change!
Maybe you will be our next champion, encouraging members of your group to get involved. It could be any type of organization—an employer, school, nonprofit, community group, etc.  It can also be a group built around different types of interests, like fans of different sports teams, public figures or celebrities.  The goal is to unite people with some common interest and then motivate everyone to join in this friendly competition. 

On the most basic level, we want to encourage you to do your part each day: Complete the three-step program on your Start page, support your favorite Teams with bonus Points, and encourage others to join the program and do the same! Together, we'll all reach goals and get healthier, and Spread the Spark far and wide in a way that has never been done before!
Giving your extra Points to a Team every day is a fun and easy way to Spark even more people to build  healthier habits so they, too, can help their favorite Teams perform better. This virtuous cycle gives greater meaning to everything you do each day to reach your goals--and helps motivate others to do the same. This in turn helps SparkPeople reach our goals of Sparking millions of People to change their lives for the better.
Bottom line: We authentically believe that simple actions like joining and supporting your favorite SparkTeams could have an incredible impact on the world if many of us come together to make this happen.
Won't you join us in becoming a champion, too?