More than 100 Michigan schools join statewide health and wellness Building Healthy Communities program

by Meghan O'Brien

| 5 min read

Public-private partnership continues to address childhood obesity and improve children’s health in Michigan GRAND RAPIDS, Dec. 11, 2015 — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan thanked Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon for joining multiple organizations collaborating in the Building Healthy Communities program today when 117 Michigan schools were awarded the program. Building Healthy Communities, originally created by Blue Cross 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 announcement was made at an event at Ridge Park Charter Academy in Grand Rapids, a new recipient of the program. Building Healthy Communities is an initiative supported by multiple statewide organizations, including Blue Cross, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Fitness Foundation, University of Michigan, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Wayne State University, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Team Nutrition and Action for Healthy Kids, working together to teach kids healthy habits, address childhood obesity and transform the school environment. The program has reached over 180,000 students in more than 390 Michigan schools. “These schools deserve a great deal of credit for their commitment to creating a learning environment that promotes health and wellness,” said Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. “Research shows that when students are healthy and eat nutritious meals, they are ready to learn. At the end of the day, we are helping Michigan kids be better prepared to learn and succeed in today’s economy.” New this year is Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness which enabled an additional 69 schools to participate, integrating the recommended process from Michigan’s new “Steps to a Healthy School” website and using five action-focused steps to direct change. Each school chose one component each from two focus areas: physical activity and physical education, and healthy eating and nutrition education. Nick Lyon, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, said, “We are proud to partner on this innovative program to help make sure our kids are ready to learn from the opening bell, through the school day and beyond. Building Healthy Communities continues to support the administration’s commitment to promoting health and wellness among youth. By working together to improve nutrition education and physical activity in our schools, we can encourage healthy habits among youth today and into the future.” “Building Healthy Communities was created by Blue Cross to help Michigan kids adopt healthy habits at a young age, increasing the likelihood they will carry those behaviors into adulthood and decrease their risk of developing many serious health issues in the future,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president, Strategy and Public Affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “It is because of the support of the administration and all the partners that this program has been so successful and continues to impact more schools and children every year.” Ridge Park Charter Academy Principal Emory Wyckoff said, “At Ridge Park, our focus is on leading children to a lifetime of success. One of the many inputs for success includes teaching overall health and wellness. We are excited to participate in this Building Healthy Communities program that offers resources designed to do just that for our students.” “This is the kind of innovative program that can put resources right into the classroom where they can have the greatest positive impact on our kids,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston. “Step Up for School Wellness is the key to helping all students improve their health, and provide them with the opportunity to grow academically. We are excited we can support a program that can open the door to better wellness and academic success for so many children.” Dr. Nate McCaughtry, director, Wayne State University Center for School Health, said, “Research is proving that Building Healthy Communities is making a long-term difference in childhood health and behavior.” “The obesity epidemic is a public health emergency,” said Kim Eagle, M.D., director of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center at the University of Michigan Health System and professor of health management and policy at the University Of Michigan School Of Public Health. “By helping shape healthy behaviors at an early age, we are making a lifelong impact on health.” Sharon Toth, RD, chief executive officer of United Dairy Industry of Michigan, said, “United Dairy Industry of Michigan is thrilled to be part of this statewide effort to increase access to a balanced, healthy breakfast in our schools so students can maximize their learning opportunity and experience.” “The true power of Building Healthy Communities is that it incorporates healthy choices and healthy lifestyles in the daily routines of our youngest students,” said Michigan Fitness Foundation president and CEO J.J. Tighe. “We are excited to provide this program to schools to reinforce the importance of physical activity and nutrition. We are inspiring kids to embrace healthy habits for a lifetime." State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker said, “I appreciate this innovative public-private partnership through the Building Healthy Communities program and the opportunity it provides to get additional resources into our schools and place an emphasis on health.” 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 or follow #MIKidsCan on Twitter. For more information on the Building Healthy Communities program, please visit The schools receiving the program for the 2015-2016 school year include:
Elementary School Program Elementary School Program Partners
Mid-Michigan Atherton Elementary School, Burton Central Elementary School, Owosso Columbiaville Elementary School, Columbiaville David Scott Elementary School, DeWitt Dye Elementary School, Flint East Olive Elementary School, St. Johns Randels Elementary School, Flint Rankin Elementary School, Swartz Creek Schavey Road Elementary School, DeWitt Torrey Hill Intermediate School, Fenton Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula Northport Public Schools, Northport Pickford Elementary School, Pickford Southeast Michigan All Saints Catholic School, Canton Allen Academy, Detroit Ardmore Elementary School, St. Clair Shores Forest Elementary School, Farmington Hills Fred W Ritter Elementary School, South Rockwood Herrington Elementary School, Pontiac Highland Park Renaissance Academy, Highland Park Hillel Day School, Farmington Hills Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, Ann Arbor Memorial 1-2 Campus, Garden City New Haven Elementary School, New Haven Niji-Iro Japanese Immersion Elementary, Livonia Norup International School, Oak Park Ralph J. Bunche Academy, Ecorse Roosevelt Elementary School, Keego Harbor Schoolcraft Elementary School, Waterford Scotch Elementary School, West Bloomfield St. Patrick School, Brighton Tenniswood Elementary School, Clinton Township Timbuktu Academy of Science and Technology, Detroit Wegienka Elementary School, Brownstown Yake Elementary School, Woodhaven West Michigan Andrews Elementary School, Three Rivers Brookside Elementary School, Big Rapids Kenwood Elementary School, Cadillac Lincoln Elementary School, South Haven Portage Central Elementary School, Portage Robinson Elementary School, Grand Haven Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Michigan Fitness Foundation United Dairy Industry of Michigan Wayne State University
Middle School Program Middle School Program Partners
Mid-Michigan E.F. Rittmueller Middle School, Frankenmuth Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula Ishpeming Middle School, Ishpeming Kalkaska Middle School, Kalkaska Newberry High School, Newberry Southeast Michigan Pittsford School, Pittsford Powell Middle School, Romeo St. Mary School, Pinkney West Michigan New Branches Charter Academy, Grand Rapids Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Michigan Department of Health and Human Services University of Michigan
Step-Up for School Wellness Program Step Up for School Wellness Program Partners
Mid-Michigan Atwood Elementary School, Lansing Barhitte Elementary School, Burton Bishop Kelley Catholic School, Lapeer Carson City Crystal Middle High School, Carson City Chesaning Middle School, Chesaning Delta Center Elementary School, Lansing Durand Middle School, Durand Eureka Elementary School, St. Johns Frostick Elementary School, Croswell Greater Heights Academy, Flint Haas Elementary School, Genesee Handley Elementary School, Saginaw Kolb Elementary School, Bay City Mt. Hope STEAM, Lansing Northwest Kidder Middle School, Jackson Perry Middle School, Perry Richfield Early Learning Center, Flint Walters Elementary School, Marshall Wexford Montessori Academy, Lansing Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula Mackinac Island Public School, Mackinac Island Mancelona Elementary School, Mancelona Mid Peninsula School, Rock Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy, Wilson Norway Elementary School, Norway Pinconning Area Middle School, Pinconning St. Francis de Sales School, Manistique Watersmeet Township School District, Watersmeet Whitefish Township Community Schools, Paradise Southeast Michigan Advanced Technology Academy, Dearborn American International Academy, Westland Andersonville Elementary School, Davisburg Canton Charter Academy, Canton Columbia Central Jr. – Sr. High School, Brooklyn Davisburg Elementary School, Davisburg Britton-Deerfield Schools - Deerfield Building, Deerfield Dossin Elementary School, Detroit Dundee Elementary School, Dundee Erie Elementary School, Clinton Township Henry Ford Academy: Elementary School, Detroit Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies, Detroit Jane Addams Elementary School, Redford John F. Kennedy Elementary School, Oak Park Loyola High School, Detroit McCollough Elementary School, Dearborn Mt. Clemens High School, Mt. Clemens Pine Tree Elementary School, Lake Orion Rockwell Middle School, Warren Roose Elementary School, Warren Roosevelt Primary School, Ferndale Sequoyah Elementary School, Macomb St. Linus Catholic School, Dearborn Heights University Yes Academy, Detroit Way Academy West Campus, Detroit Woodland Development Center, Marysville  West Michigan Benton Harbor Charter School Academy, Benton Harbor Betsie Valley Elementary School, Thompsonville Black River Public School, Holland Comstock STEM Academy, Kalamazoo Hughes Elementary School, Marshall Mattawan Later Elementary, Mattawan Norton Elementary School, Three Rivers Patterson Elementary School, Holly Pine Ridge Elementary School, Grand Rapids Portage Central Middle School, Portage Pullman Elementary School, Pullman Ridge Park Charter Academy, Grand Rapids Williams Elementary School, Jonesville Winchell Elementary School, Kalamazoo Action for Healthy Kids 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
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 and

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