Success Stories: How a Commitment to Michigan’s Children Builds Healthy Communities
In Michigan, nearly 33 percent of children, ages 10 to 17, are overweight or obese (a full one percent higher than the national average). That means one-third of children in our state have a higher risk for serious physical conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, and mental issues, like low self-esteem. We wanted to take a moment in March, National Nutrition Month, to talk about how it can be easier to promote healthy living and eating habits in our children if we all work together.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is committed to combating childhood obesity and is partnering with nine other statewide health and wellness organizations on Building Healthy Communities. Building Healthy Communities is available for Michigan’s schools to help create healthier school environments and establish the knowledge and attitudes for a healthy lifestyle. The program includes education in the classroom and gymnasium on physical activity and nutrition, increasing access to healthy food and beverages and fun physical activity opportunities.
A number of Michigan schools have seen the difference that can be made by participating in the Building Healthy Communities program. Here are a few of their stories:
Hughes and Walters Elementary Schools Promote Healthier Eating
Building Healthy Communities provided the resources for Hughes Elementary and Walters Elementary Schools in Marshall to make changes in their cafeteria. This helps increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables and encourages students to make healthier eating choices. In addition, both schools now have “food councils,” where students help create each month’s healthy lunch menu. Because of this, both schools received the “Gold” distinction in the School Wellness Award – an honor reserved for schools working to create healthy school environments.
Pullman Elementary School Makes Activity Fun
Van Buren County’s Pullman Elementary School created positive long-term changes in its students’ lives through the Building Healthy Communities program. The school focused on recess and healthy celebrations. The extensive recess equipment provided helped make the midday break active and motivated students to get moving and have fun. This has created more positive interactions between students and fewer disciplinary issues. The parties and celebrations received a makeover through taste testing, communication to staff and families and easy-to-implement tips. Special events are now more nutritious, featuring items like healthy smoothies, made from yogurt, strawberries, spinach and low fat milk.
Mt. Clemens High School Gets Everyone Moving
In need of a quality physical education program, Mt. Clemens High School received the Building Healthy Communities: Step up for School Wellness program in 2016. This provided the Exemplary Physical Education Curriculum, a teacher training and equipment package that allows all student to fully participate during physical education class. Communication tools like morning announcements, banners and posters have been used to reinforce the healthy lifestyle students are learning in physical education class.
If you are an educator or parent interested in learning more about this program, or want to apply, visit this site for more information.
To learn more about the Building Healthy Communities program and its impact, visit these blogs:
- Michigan Elementary Schools Invited to Apply for Statewide Program to Improve Health and Prevent Childhood Obesity
- Building Healthy Communities: Fighting Childhood Obesity One Kid at a Time
- Healthy Schools the Key to a Healthier Generation
Photo credit: A Healthier Michigan