More Than 50 Schools Statewide to Implement Innovative Health and Wellness-Based Building Healthy Communities Program

More Than 50 Schools Statewide to Implement Innovative Health and Wellness-Based Building Healthy Communities Program

DETROIT, Sept. 14, 2017 – Fifty-one schools across Michigan were chosen to join the Building Healthy Communities program for the 2017-2018 school year to improve health and wellness through better nutrition and physical activity for their students. Building Healthy Communities is an evidence-based, comprehensive, school-wide initiative that supports children’s health by providing students, teachers and administrators with tools and resources to improve student health, while creating a healthier school environment.

Building Healthy Communities helps kids build lifelong, healthy habits and addresses childhood obesity through the transformation of school environments. First launched by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in 2009, the program has since been embraced by more than 500 schools across the state, and has helped over 250,000 students develop better habits and live healthier lives.

Building Healthy Communities is a private-public initiative supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Team Nutrition, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, the University of Michigan, the Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact and Action for Healthy Kids.

The program has a long history of measurable and demonstrated impact on improving the health of Michigan kids.  Students, on average, participating in the Building Healthy Communities program:

  • Eat 3-4 cups of fruits and vegetables daily and 2 ½ – 3 cups of dairy, meeting national recommendations.
  • Increase steps by 700 per day
  • Complete 35 additional minutes per week of moderate and vigorous physical activity
  • Participate in 19 minutes less screen and video time per day
  • Increase attention span in class by 74 percent

“After nearly eight years, we’re proud to have witnessed the difference Building Healthy Communities makes for Michigan students inside and outside of the classroom,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Strategy, Government and Public Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Whether it’s choosing to be more active or making smarter eating choices, implementing these programs in the school environment has empowered students across the state to establish healthier habits that they can carry with them throughout life.”

Catering to the unique needs of schools, differing age groups and learning environments, Building Healthy Communities offers three programs for schools to choose from, including Engaging Elementary Schools through Partnership, Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools and Step Up for School Wellness for kindergarten through 12th grade. The application period for Building Healthy Communities program, Step Up for School Wellness, is still underway until Sept. 30. Schools are invited to find more information online at

“Building Healthy Communities continually demonstrates success when it comes to creating and fostering school environments that support healthy eating and physical activity, and for investing in knowledge and skill building for healthy lifestyles through adulthood,” said Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Adding 51 new schools to the initiative this year is a tremendous sign for the future health of our schools and students statewide.”

Kim Eagle, M.D., cardiologist and a director of the University of Michigan’s Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center and creator of Project Healthy Schools said, “Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools is working to create a culture of wellness among the students we serve. We have shown that by implementing a health curriculum in middle schools, you can improve children’s health. Our research shows rather remarkable changes in risk factors after a 10-week program that focuses on nutrition, activity and reduced screen time and the health benefits appear to last for years after the sixth-grade curriculum.”

“Our Center for Health and Community Impact is very excited to continue our partnership with so many influential organizations to spearhead healthier schools in Michigan. We are particularly enthusiastic about our recent findings demonstrating the positive impact of the program on reducing childhood obesity and improving academic achievement. Facilitating dual outcomes on children’s health and school performance is vital to the work that we do,” said Dr. Nate McCaughtry, director, Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact.

Sharon Toth, RD and chief executive officer of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, said, “We know healthy students are healthy learners. That’s why the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, on behalf of Michigan’s dairy farm families, is proud to support the Building Healthy Communities program. This program aligns with the dairy community’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which empowers youth, schools and communities to stay healthy. We are all committed to helping students eat a healthy diet to help fight childhood obesity and lead children to a healthier future.”

“The Building Healthy Communities partnership supports our mutual mission to improve children’s health by beginning a commitment to healthier eating and physical activity that can last a lifetime,” said Marci Scott, PhD, RDN, vice president for Health Programs at the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

The schools receiving the Engaging Elementary Schools through Partnership and Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools for the 2017-2018 school year include:

Engaging Elementary Schools through Partnership Program 
Alcott Elementary
Ann Arbor Trail Magnet School
Brownell STEM Academy
CA Frost Environmental Science Academy Pk-5.
Carleton Elementary School
Carver STEM Academy
Challenger Elementary
County Oaks Elementary
Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences
Eagle’s Nest Academy
Edgewood Elementary School
Estabrook Elementary School
Ferndale Upper Elementary
GEE White Academy
Grand River Academy
Hope of Detroit Academy
Hunter Elementary
Inkster Preparatory Academy
Kennedy Elementary
Keys Grace Academy
Lake Ann Elementary
Louis Pasteur Elementary/Middle
MacArthur K-8 University Academy
Mackenzie Elementary
Margaret Black Elementary School
Mary A White Elementary School
New Beginnings Academy
Newberry Elementary
North Star Academy
Oakview Elementary School
Parma Elementary School
Pearl Lean Elementary School
River Rouge STEM Academy
Rudyard Area Elementary Schools
Tecumseh Compass Learning Center
Timberland Charter Academy
Wick Elementary School
Wolverine Elementary
Engaging Middle Schools through Project Health Schools Program 
Bentley Middle School
Big Rapids Middle School
Carrollton Middle School
Hazel Park Junior High School
Hillman Junior Senior High
Milan Middle School
Millington Junior High
Munger Middle School
Portland Middle School
Potterville Middle School
St. Mary Catholic School
St. Patrick Catholic School
Thunder Bay Junior High

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.5 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. For more company information, visit and