More than 100 Michigan schools join statewide health and wellness Building Healthy Communities program

Public-private partnership continues to address childhood obesity and improve children’s health in Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Dec. 11, 2015 — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan thanked Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon for joining multiple organizations collaborating in the Building Healthy Communities program today when 117 Michigan schools were awarded the program.  Building Healthy Communities, originally created by Blue Cross in 2009, 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. The announcement was made at an event at Ridge Park Charter Academy in Grand Rapids, a new recipient of the program.

Building Healthy Communities is an initiative supported by multiple statewide organizations, including Blue Cross, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Department of Education,  the Michigan Fitness Foundation, University of Michigan, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Wayne State University, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Team Nutrition and Action for Healthy Kids, working together to teach kids healthy habits, address childhood obesity and transform the school environment. The program has reached over 180,000 students in more than 390 Michigan schools.

“These schools deserve a great deal of credit for their commitment to creating a learning environment that promotes health and wellness,” said Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. “Research shows that when students are healthy and eat nutritious meals, they are ready to learn. At the end of the day, we are helping Michigan kids be better prepared to learn and succeed in today’s economy.”

New this year is Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness which enabled an additional 69 schools to participate, integrating the recommended process from Michigan’s new “Steps to a Healthy School” website and using five action-focused steps to direct change. Each school chose one component each from two focus areas: physical activity and physical education, and healthy eating and nutrition education.

Nick Lyon, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, said, “We are proud to partner on this innovative program to help make sure our kids are ready to learn from the opening bell, through the school day and beyond. Building Healthy Communities continues to support the administration’s commitment to promoting health and wellness among youth. By working together to improve nutrition education and physical activity in our schools, we can encourage healthy habits among youth today and into the future.”

“Building Healthy Communities was created by Blue Cross to help Michigan kids adopt healthy habits at a young age, increasing the likelihood they will carry those behaviors into adulthood and decrease their risk of developing many serious health issues in the future,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president, Strategy and Public Affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “It is because of the support of the administration and all the partners that this program has been so successful and continues to impact more schools and children every year.”

Ridge Park Charter Academy Principal Emory Wyckoff said, “At Ridge Park, our focus is on leading children to a lifetime of success. One of the many inputs for success includes teaching overall health and wellness. We are excited to participate in this Building Healthy Communities program that offers resources designed to do just that for our students.”

“This is the kind of innovative program that can put resources right into the classroom where they can have the greatest positive impact on our kids,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston. “Step Up for School Wellness is the key to helping all students improve their health, and provide them with the opportunity to grow academically. We are excited we can support a program that can open the door to better wellness and academic success for so many children.”

Dr. Nate McCaughtry, director, Wayne State University Center for School Health, said, “Research is proving that Building Healthy Communities is making a long-term difference in childhood health and behavior.”

“The obesity epidemic is a public health emergency,” said Kim Eagle, M.D., director of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center at the University of Michigan Health System and professor of health management and policy at the University Of Michigan School Of Public Health. “By helping shape healthy behaviors at an early age, we are making a lifelong impact on health.”

Sharon Toth, RD, chief executive officer of United Dairy Industry of Michigan, said, “United Dairy Industry of Michigan is thrilled to be part of this statewide effort to increase access to a balanced, healthy breakfast in our schools so students can maximize their learning opportunity and experience.”

“The true power of Building Healthy Communities is that it incorporates healthy choices and healthy lifestyles in the daily routines of our youngest students,” said Michigan Fitness Foundation president and CEO J.J. Tighe. “We are excited to provide this program to schools to reinforce the importance of physical activity and nutrition. We are inspiring kids to embrace healthy habits for a lifetime.”

State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker said, “I appreciate this innovative public-private partnership through the Building Healthy Communities program and the opportunity it provides to get additional resources into our schools and place an emphasis on health.”

Building Healthy Communities supports Blue Cross’s ongoing commitment to children’s health and its #MIKidsCan campaign – an initiative focused on encouraging kids to adopt healthy habits early in life that are more likely to be carried into adulthood. For more information on Blue Cross’s ongoing efforts to help improve childhood health, visit or follow #MIKidsCan on Twitter. For more information on the Building Healthy Communities program, please visit


The schools receiving the program for the 2015-2016 school year include:

Elementary School Program

Elementary School Program Partners


  • Atherton Elementary School, Burton
  • Central Elementary School, Owosso
  • Columbiaville Elementary School, Columbiaville
  • David Scott Elementary School, DeWitt
  • Dye Elementary School, Flint
  • East Olive Elementary School, St. Johns
  • Randels Elementary School, Flint
  • Rankin Elementary School, Swartz Creek
  • Schavey Road Elementary School, DeWitt
  • Torrey Hill Intermediate School, Fenton

Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula

  • Northport Public Schools, Northport
  • Pickford Elementary School, Pickford

Southeast Michigan

  • All Saints Catholic School, Canton
  • Allen Academy, Detroit
  • Ardmore Elementary School, St. Clair Shores
  • Forest Elementary School, Farmington Hills
  • Fred W Ritter Elementary School, South Rockwood
  • Herrington Elementary School, Pontiac
  • Highland Park Renaissance Academy, Highland Park
  • Hillel Day School, Farmington Hills
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, Ann Arbor
  • Memorial 1-2 Campus, Garden City
  • New Haven Elementary School, New Haven
  • Niji-Iro Japanese Immersion Elementary, Livonia
  • Norup International School, Oak Park
  • Ralph J. Bunche Academy, Ecorse
  • Roosevelt Elementary School, Keego Harbor
  • Schoolcraft Elementary School, Waterford
  • Scotch Elementary School, West Bloomfield
  • St. Patrick School, Brighton
  • Tenniswood Elementary School, Clinton Township
  • Timbuktu Academy of Science and Technology, Detroit
  • Wegienka Elementary School, Brownstown
  • Yake Elementary School, Woodhaven

West Michigan

  • Andrews Elementary School, Three Rivers
  • Brookside Elementary School, Big Rapids
  • Kenwood Elementary School, Cadillac
  • Lincoln Elementary School, South Haven
  • Portage Central Elementary School, Portage
  • Robinson Elementary School, Grand Haven
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
  • Michigan Fitness Foundation
  • United Dairy Industry of Michigan
  • Wayne State University

Middle School Program

Middle School Program Partners


  • E.F. Rittmueller Middle School, Frankenmuth

Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula

  • Ishpeming Middle School, Ishpeming
  • Kalkaska Middle School, Kalkaska
  • Newberry High School, Newberry

Southeast Michigan

  • Pittsford School, Pittsford
  • Powell Middle School, Romeo
  • St. Mary School, Pinkney

West Michigan

  • New Branches Charter Academy, Grand Rapids
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
  • University of Michigan

Step-Up for School Wellness Program

Step Up for School Wellness Program Partners


  • Atwood Elementary School, Lansing
  • Barhitte Elementary School, Burton
  • Bishop Kelley Catholic School, Lapeer
  • Carson City Crystal Middle High School, Carson City
  • Chesaning Middle School, Chesaning
  • Delta Center Elementary School, Lansing
  • Durand Middle School, Durand
  • Eureka Elementary School, St. Johns
  • Frostick Elementary School, Croswell
  • Greater Heights Academy, Flint
  • Haas Elementary School, Genesee
  • Handley Elementary School, Saginaw
  • Kolb Elementary School, Bay City
  • Mt. Hope STEAM, Lansing
  • Northwest Kidder Middle School, Jackson
  • Perry Middle School, Perry
  • Richfield Early Learning Center, Flint
  • Walters Elementary School, Marshall
  • Wexford Montessori Academy, Lansing

Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula

  • Mackinac Island Public School, Mackinac Island
  • Mancelona Elementary School, Mancelona
  • Mid Peninsula School, Rock
  • Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy, Wilson
  • Norway Elementary School, Norway
  • Pinconning Area Middle School, Pinconning
  • St. Francis de Sales School, Manistique
  • Watersmeet Township School District, Watersmeet
  • Whitefish Township Community Schools, Paradise

Southeast Michigan

  • Advanced Technology Academy, Dearborn
  • American International Academy, Westland
  • Andersonville Elementary School, Davisburg
  • Canton Charter Academy, Canton
  • Columbia Central Jr. – Sr. High School, Brooklyn
  • Davisburg Elementary School, Davisburg
  • Britton-Deerfield Schools – Deerfield Building, Deerfield
  • Dossin Elementary School, Detroit
  • Dundee Elementary School, Dundee
  • Erie Elementary School, Clinton Township
  • Henry Ford Academy: Elementary School, Detroit
  • Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies, Detroit
  • Jane Addams Elementary School, Redford
  • John F. Kennedy Elementary School, Oak Park
  • Loyola High School, Detroit
  • McCollough Elementary School, Dearborn
  • Mt. Clemens High School, Mt. Clemens
  • Pine Tree Elementary School, Lake Orion
  • Rockwell Middle School, Warren
  • Roose Elementary School, Warren
  • Roosevelt Primary School, Ferndale
  • Sequoyah Elementary School, Macomb
  • St. Linus Catholic School, Dearborn Heights
  • University Yes Academy, Detroit
  • Way Academy West Campus, Detroit
  • Woodland Development Center, Marysville

 West Michigan

  • Benton Harbor Charter School Academy, Benton Harbor
  • Betsie Valley Elementary School, Thompsonville
  • Black River Public School, Holland
  • Comstock STEM Academy, Kalamazoo
  • Hughes Elementary School, Marshall
  • Mattawan Later Elementary, Mattawan
  • Norton Elementary School, Three Rivers
  • Patterson Elementary School, Holly
  • Pine Ridge Elementary School, Grand Rapids
  • Portage Central Middle School, Portage
  • Pullman Elementary School, Pullman
  • Ridge Park Charter Academy, Grand Rapids
  • Williams Elementary School, Jonesville
  • Winchell Elementary School, Kalamazoo
  • Action for Healthy Kids
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
  • Michigan Department of Education
  • Michigan Fitness Foundation
  • Michigan State University Extension
  • Michigan Team Nutrition
  • United Dairy Industry of Michigan

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



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