DETROIT, May 7, 2019— Michigan K-12 schools are invited to apply for an innovative program that provides students, teachers and administrators with the necessary tools to create a healthier school environment for the 2019-2020 school year. The program empowers and educates children to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and address mental health and well-being.
From now until 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 30, schools can apply for Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness, one of three options under the successful Building Healthy Communities program. Over the last 10 years, this evidence-based, comprehensive, school-wide initiative has resulted in students eating 40 percent more fruits and vegetables than the national average for six to 11-year-olds, spending 19 minutes less time on screens and video per day and 35 additional minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. New this year, the program will address mental health and well-being. The resources offered will empower students and staff to better understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions. “As we celebrate our 80th anniversary, Blue Cross is grateful to our dedicated Building Healthy Communities partners and all those who continue to advocate for improving children’s health in our state,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president, Government, Strategy and Public Affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “We look forward to empowering more students and faculty to create healthier school environments in a way that caters to their specific needs and goals.” Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness is supported by multiple statewide organizations, including 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, and Action for Healthy Kids. Building Healthy Communities has since been embraced by more than 750 schools across the state, helping more than 340,000 students develop better habits and live healthier lives. Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said, “We are excited about another year of Building Healthy Communities programming. Program results indicate that BHC: Step Up for School Wellness, based on the Michigan Steps to a Healthy School, is a replicable model both for schools preparing for change and those ready to use the evidence-based and practice tested tools we offer to create healthy school environments.” “With MDE’s focus on becoming a top 10 education state, one of our priorities is to support the whole child,” said Diane L. Golzynski, PhD, RD, Director, Office of Health and Nutrition Services at the Michigan Department of Education. “The addition of social emotional learning helps schools to understand the critical importance of those skills and how they transfer to all knowledge provided in their academic coursework. MDE applauds the Building Healthy Communities program for recognizing this critical element.” 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 AHealthierMichigan.org/family or follow #MIKidsCan on Twitter. 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 health benefits to more than 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies residing outside the state. The company has been committed to delivering affordable health care products through a broad variety of plans for businesses, individuals and seniors for 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.