When what was once considered a health issue of mild concern explodes into a full-blown epidemic, it’s time to not just act fast, but to act big. That was the thinking that moved Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan when we turned our attention in 2009 to taking on the issue of childhood obesity. Our first move was to begin the Building Healthy Communities grant program to provide schools across the state with the funds they needed to get kids moving, eating healthier and adopting healthy lifestyles. Since then, we’ve impacted the lives of some 24,000 kids across Michigan with these grants. Now we’re taking the program even bigger by forming a partnership with the Wayne State University Center for School Health in the College of Education and the Michigan Fitness Foundation to enhance physical activity and nutrition education in schools and provide culturally relevant information and resources. The expanded Building Healthy Communities partnership will also help school staff and youth leadership promote school transformation and provide family education where it’s most needed. The program also benefits from the expertise and unique resources of each partnering organization. Last week, we again began accepting applications from schools interested in getting on board with Building Healthy Communities. Those schools receiving the grant awards will find themselves with an additional $30,000 to support their efforts to make a real difference in the lives of Michigan’s kids. Applications are due by March 30, 2012, and can be found herealong with grant award program details. By going bigger, the Blues are taking the program exactly where it needs to go, said Lynda Rossi, BCBSM’s senior vice president of Public Affairs and chief of staff. “This allows us to take that program and make it bigger and broader, to touch more kids and leverage the strengths of our partners, Wayne State’s Center for School Health as well as the Michigan Fitness Foundation and all the wonderful work they do,” Rossi said. Following the advice we’re giving the kids, the goal now becomes to stay active. Only by bringing in more partners and extending the program’s reach into more underserved communities, can we come close to making the impact we’re hoping for.
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