DETROIT, May 28, 2020 — 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 2020-2021 school year. The program empowers and educates children to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and address mental health and well-being. From now until 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 past 11 years, the Building Healthy Communities program has resulted in students eating more fruits and vegetables, spending less time on screens and video and increased physical activity. 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 Elementary and Middle School Principals Association, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan State University Extension and United Dairy Industry of Michigan. Last year, components were added to the program to address mental health and well-being. The resources 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. “We hope the opportunity to participate in Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness gives schools additional resources to support their students and staff as they return to school in the fall,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Strategy, Government and Public Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Healthy habits start young, and for the past 11 years this program has empowered students across the state to move more, eat healthier and be more engaged in the classroom. The additional focus on mental health and well-being is more important now than ever considering the upheaval students and staff have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said, “We are excited about another year of Building Healthy Communities programming. Given the uncertain and unprecedented circumstances facing Michigan educators, we hope the resources offered through this program will help schools and districts continue to focus on building a culture of health and keep their momentum moving forward.” “Now more than ever as we begin to consider what school may look like in the fall, we need to provide our teachers and administrators with the resources needed to support children’s mental and physical health,” said Dr. Diane L. Golzynski, director Office of Health and Nutrition Services at the Michigan Department of Education. “We are excited to see this program continue to grow and meet the needs of our schools and look forward to continuing the support for school districts across the state.” Building Healthy Communities has been embraced by more than 800 schools across the state, helping more than 395,000 students develop better habits and live healthier lives. “United Dairy Industry of Michigan, on behalf of Michigan’s dairy farm families, is proud to support Building Healthy Communities,” said Sharon Toth, RDN and chief executive officer of United Dairy Industry of Michigan. “The program aligns with the dairy community’s goals of bringing partners and resources together to support youth leading healthy sustainable change in their schools and communities. It’s a great opportunity to help build lifelong healthy habits for these students.” Paul Liabenow, executive director, Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association, said, “We know that emotional and mental health are a top concern for school administrators nationwide. We know the positive impact that social and emotional learning resources will have on Michigan students taking part in Building Healthy Communities and are proud to support this program. Along with improving nutrition and exercise habits, focusing on emotional skills will help kids learn and practice skills related to resilience, coping, courage and kindness, which will be more important than ever as schools resume operations.” Building Healthy Communities supports Blue Cross’s ongoing commitment to children’s health and 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. 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 81 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. In 2020, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan received the J.D. Power Award for “Highest Member Satisfaction Among Commercial Health Plans in Michigan” for the second time. For more information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.
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