DETROIT, February 16, 2017— For the ninth year in a row, Michigan elementary schools are invited to apply for Building Healthy Communities, 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. Building Healthy Communities 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 Health and Community Impact and Action for Healthy Kids, working together to address childhood obesity and teach kids healthy habits that can be carried into adulthood. Over 230,000 students in more than 500 Michigan schools have been reached through Building Healthy Communities and nearly 150 schools started the program last year. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is committed to investing in the future of Michigan children and proud to partner with such great organizations throughout the state that share this same affinity for childhood health,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Strategy, Government and Public Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Building Healthy Communities creates a positive impact on participating schools’ culture of health by providing the resources and education necessary to help children develop lifelong, healthy habits.” There are three programs available through Building Healthy Communities to help meet the needs of Michigan schools for the 2017-2018 school year. Interested schools are encouraged to review full program descriptions and application information at www.bcbsm.com/buildhealth. Applications are currently being accepted for the Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program through Mar. 29, 2017. Interested schools can also join an informational conference call on Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. or 4 p.m. To join, call 641-715-0688 and enter pass code 517761#. Applications for the Building Healthy Communities: Middle School Program and Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness will be announced later in 2017. "Through our statewide partnerships such as Building Healthy Communities, we are committed to continuing to make sustainable changes to ensure that school environments are supportive of healthy eating and physical activity,” said MDHHS Director Nick Lyon. “Because we know that children who are exposed to healthy and supportive environments are more likely to live healthy lifestyles, partnerships such as these are vital to supporting new skills and knowledge through physical and nutrition education opportunities.” 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 83 percent less trouble sleeping and an improved quality of life. “The research and evaluation conducted by our Center on Building Healthy Communities not only suggests the program has important impact in the areas of physical activity, healthy eating, educational performance, quality of life, and healthy school reform but it also shows promise for reducing obesity in elementary school children,” said Dr. Nate McCaughtry, director of the Center for Health and Community Impact at Wayne State University. "Building Healthy Communities has increased student awareness on making healthier choices," said Thomas Crane, physical education teacher at Yake Elementary School. For more information on Building Healthy Communities or to apply for any of the programs, 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: Guilherme Jofili
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