For the sixth year in a row, Michigan elementary 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. The statewide program is a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Community Health, the Michigan Fitness Foundation, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University’s Center for School Health. All public, charter and private elementary schools in the state are encouraged to apply for the program by March 2, 2015. The program focuses on creating healthier school environments and provides students, teachers and administrators critical support, curriculum, resources and equipment to help children establish healthy eating and physical activity habits early on in life that will carry over to adulthood. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proud of the positive results we’ve already seen in our Building Healthy Communities schools and we are excited to open up the opportunity for more schools to participate,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “This program is a cornerstone in BCBSM’s efforts toward a healthier Michigan.” The Building Healthy Communities program is an evidence-based, comprehensive, school-wide initiative that aligns with the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan, created by Gov. Snyder in 2013. The program works with schools and their communities to teach kids healthy habits and address childhood obesity, ideally preventing obesity and chronic illness as an adult. Building Healthy Communities has already impacted more than 100,000 students in 275 Michigan schools since it launched in 2009. “The Building Healthy Communities program helps students and families get healthier, improving their quality of life and ultimately reducing health care costs for Michigan residents,” said Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. “The Building Healthy Communities partnership brings together private organizations and the public sector to implement evidence-based best practices to create healthier school environments so we can make progress in the fight against childhood obesity. This is an investment that will pay off for Michigan and help us build healthier futures for our families together.” Nate McCaughtry, director for the Center for School Health, Wayne State University said, “Building Healthy Communities provides a great model for how we can partner together to help kids make the healthy choice throughout their lives, whether in the food they eat, the beverages they drink and the activities they engage in. Building Healthy Communities is already making a positive impact that’s affecting tens of thousands of kids across Michigan. We invite schools in communities across Michigan to reach out and be a part of this success story.” Sharon Toth, RD, chief executive officer of United Dairy Industry of Michigan, said, “The Building Healthy Communities program helps students and families develop better eating and fitness habits through Fuel Up to Play 60, a leading in-school nutrition and physical activity program from the National Dairy Council and the NFL, along with the USDA. The activities are designed to get students excited about school wellness and help them become leaders in their schools. Dairy farm families are excited to support schools in the fight for healthier kids. The student leaders receive training to implement the program, teaching peers and families to choose good-for-you foods and be active for at least 60 minutes a day.” Schools interested in applying for the Building Healthy Communities program can join an informational conference call on Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. or 4 p.m. To join, call 605-475-4700 and enter pass code 759821#. Schools selected to receive the program will be announced in May. For more information on the Building Healthy Communities program and application process, visit www.bcbsm.com/buildhealth. For more information about the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan, visit www.michigan.gov/healthymichigan. 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 4.4 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: A Healthier Michigan
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