DETROIT, Feb. 4, 2016 — For the seventh year in a row, Michigan schools are invited to apply for the Building Healthy Communities program, a private-public initiative designed to fight obesity and improve childhood health through school-based wellness programming. Building Healthy Communities, originally created by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan 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 Building Healthy Communities program is supported by multiple statewide organizations, including 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 , United Dairy Industry of Michigan, University of Michigan, Wayne State University Center for School Health and Action for Healthy Kids, working together to address childhood obesity and teach kids healthy habits that can be carried into adulthood. The program has reached over 180,000 students in more than 390 Michigan schools. Currently, 117 schools are implementing the program for the 2015-2016 school year. Students participating in the Building Healthy Communities elementary school program demonstrated a 28 percent increase in calories burned daily and ate 40 percent more fruits and vegetables than the national average for six- to 11-year-olds. Students reported 130 percent more energy, 83 percent less trouble sleeping and an improved quality of life. “This program made a significant impact on my son,” said Elizabeth Cranston, whose son attends Scotch Elementary School in West Bloomfield, which implements Building Healthy Communities. "Not only is he getting more physical activity, but he’s also making healthier decisions when it comes to food. Until recently, the only vegetable I could get him to eat was green beans. Now on his own, he’s asking for more variety in vegetables and eating everything we put in front of him.” Schools looking to get involved in the Building Healthy Communities program have two options:
- Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program - A comprehensive program model designed for elementary schools, in which multiple healthy eating, physical activity opportunities and education are embedded throughout the school environment. Schools can apply for the program at bcbsm.com/buildhealth through March 30, 2016. Interested schools can also join an informational conference call on the Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program on Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. or 4 p.m. To join, call 605-475-4700 and enter pass code 759821#.
- Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness Program - A flexible model designed for all grade levels, K – 12, to help educators make targeted improvements to the school environment through physical activity and nutrition components, such as physical education curriculum or toolkits to help incorporate breakfast in classrooms. Schools can apply for the program here through March 18, 2016. Schools interested in applying for the Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness Program can register for an informational webinar on Feb. 16 at 10 a.m.
For more information on Building Healthy Communities program or to apply for the program, visit bcbsm.com/buildhealth. 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 bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com. Photo credit: Phalinn Ooi Flickr (main image)