Building Healthy Communities Schools Making a Difference

We all love to see kids being active and making healthy choices at school, but sometimes options just don’t seem available. That’s where Blue Cross’s Building Healthy Communities program comes in. Building Healthy Communities was founded in 2009 to fight childhood obesity and lead children to a healthier future. It has since grown into a partnership between BCBSM and the Michigan Department of Community Health, among other partners.

Building Healthy Communities has components ranging from healthy eating and physical activity to establishing a supportive school environment. The comprehensive, school-wide program is also designed to educate students on healthy habits and encourage them to carry the habits beyond the classroom.

To better show these options, we stopped by a BHC program school, Madison Elementary, to see how the changes were working out for students and staff. Though some elements are BHC specific, many are just healthy habits that the school is implementing. Here are a few of the noticeable differences:

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Multiple recess options- As long as it’s not too cold outside, kids are given the option of playing in the gym or getting some fresh air for recess after lunch. Providing these options lets kids make their own decisions and stay active during recess, even in the winter.

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Health tip cards and banners- Students often receive small cards and activities that show healthy foods to eat and healthy exercises they can do. There are also banners around the school encouraging healthier lifestyles.

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Active gaming systems- Having Wii and Xbox systems available in common spaces keeps kids constantly moving while having fun at the same time.

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Physical activity equipment-  BHC provided gym carts contain balls, hula hoops and other equipment for kids to stay active indoors and outside during recess.

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Classroom engagement- Teachers develop activities for older students to mentor younger ones on how to exercise and ways to be smarter about their eating habits.

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Nutritious lunches- By providing fresh veggies, fruit and other healthy foods at lunch, kids learn about healthy eating and train their taste buds to like healthy foods early on.

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Step counters and contests- School staff and personnel encourage kids to wear pedometers and see who can get the most steps in for the day, week and month.

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Display cases– Cases around the school display play gear such as frisbees and beach balls and healthy food stuffed animals like yams, eggplant and melon.

All photo credit: A Healthier Michigan

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