More Than 50 Schools Statewide to Implement Innovative Health and Wellness-Based Building Healthy Communities Program

Brianna Neace

| 5 min read

DETROIT, Sept. 14, 2017 – Fifty-one schools across Michigan were chosen to join the Building Healthy Communities program for the 2017-2018 school year to improve health and wellness through better nutrition and physical activity for their students. Building Healthy Communities 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 helps kids build lifelong, healthy habits and addresses childhood obesity through the transformation of school environments. First launched by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in 2009, the program has since been embraced by more than 500 schools across the state, and has helped over 250,000 students develop better habits and live healthier lives. Building Healthy Communities is a private-public initiative supported by 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, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, the University of Michigan, the Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact and Action for Healthy Kids. The program has a long history of measurable and demonstrated impact on improving the health of Michigan kids. Students, on average, participating in the Building Healthy Communities program:
  • Eat 3-4 cups of fruits and vegetables daily and 2 ½ - 3 cups of dairy, meeting national recommendations.
  • Increase steps by 700 per day
  • Complete 35 additional minutes per week of moderate and vigorous physical activity
  • Participate in 19 minutes less screen and video time per day
  • Increase attention span in class by 74 percent
“After nearly eight years, we’re proud to have witnessed the difference Building Healthy Communities makes for Michigan students inside and outside of the classroom,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Strategy, Government and Public Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Whether it’s choosing to be more active or making smarter eating choices, implementing these programs in the school environment has empowered students across the state to establish healthier habits that they can carry with them throughout life.” Catering to the unique needs of schools, differing age groups and learning environments, Building Healthy Communities offers three programs for schools to choose from, including Engaging Elementary Schools through Partnership, Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools and Step Up for School Wellness for kindergarten through 12th grade. The application period for Building Healthy Communities program, Step Up for School Wellness, is still underway until Sept. 30. Schools are invited to find more information online at “Building Healthy Communities continually demonstrates success when it comes to creating and fostering school environments that support healthy eating and physical activity, and for investing in knowledge and skill building for healthy lifestyles through adulthood,” said Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Adding 51 new schools to the initiative this year is a tremendous sign for the future health of our schools and students statewide.” Kim Eagle, M.D., cardiologist and a director of the University of Michigan’s Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center and creator of Project Healthy Schools said, “Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools is working to create a culture of wellness among the students we serve. We have shown that by implementing a health curriculum in middle schools, you can improve children's health. Our research shows rather remarkable changes in risk factors after a 10-week program that focuses on nutrition, activity and reduced screen time and the health benefits appear to last for years after the sixth-grade curriculum.” "Our Center for Health and Community Impact is very excited to continue our partnership with so many influential organizations to spearhead healthier schools in Michigan. We are particularly enthusiastic about our recent findings demonstrating the positive impact of the program on reducing childhood obesity and improving academic achievement. Facilitating dual outcomes on children's health and school performance is vital to the work that we do," said Dr. Nate McCaughtry, director, Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact. Sharon Toth, RD and chief executive officer of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, said, “We know healthy students are healthy learners. That’s why the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, on behalf of Michigan’s dairy farm families, is proud to support the Building Healthy Communities program. This program aligns with the dairy community’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which empowers youth, schools and communities to stay healthy. We are all committed to helping students eat a healthy diet to help fight childhood obesity and lead children to a healthier future.” "The Building Healthy Communities partnership supports our mutual mission to improve children's health by beginning a commitment to healthier eating and physical activity that can last a lifetime,” said Marci Scott, PhD, RDN, vice president for Health Programs at the Michigan Fitness Foundation. The schools receiving the Engaging Elementary Schools through Partnership and Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools for the 2017-2018 school year include:

Engaging Elementary Schools through Partnership Program

  • Alcott Elementary
  • Ann Arbor Trail Magnet School
  • Brownell STEM Academy
  • CA Frost Environmental Science Academy Pk-5.
  • Carleton Elementary School
  • Carver STEM Academy
  • Challenger Elementary
  • County Oaks Elementary
  • Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • Eagle’s Nest Academy
  • Edgewood Elementary School
  • Estabrook Elementary School
  • Ferndale Upper Elementary
  • GEE White Academy
  • Grand River Academy
  • Hope of Detroit Academy
  • Hunter Elementary
  • Inkster Preparatory Academy
  • Kennedy Elementary
  • Keys Grace Academy
  • Lake Ann Elementary
  • Louis Pasteur Elementary/Middle
  • MacArthur K-8 University Academy
  • Mackenzie Elementary
  • Margaret Black Elementary School
  • Mary A White Elementary School
  • New Beginnings Academy
  • Newberry Elementary
  • North Star Academy
  • Oakview Elementary School
  • Parma Elementary School
  • Pearl Lean Elementary School
  • River Rouge STEM Academy
  • Rudyard Area Elementary Schools
  • Tecumseh Compass Learning Center
  • Timberland Charter Academy
  • Wick Elementary School
  • Wolverine Elementary

Engaging Middle Schools through Project Health Schools Program

  • Bentley Middle School
  • Big Rapids Middle School
  • Carrollton Middle School
  • Hazel Park Junior High School
  • Hillman Junior Senior High
  • Milan Middle School
  • Millington Junior High
  • Munger Middle School
  • Portland Middle School
  • Potterville Middle School
  • St. Mary Catholic School
  • St. Patrick Catholic School
  • Thunder Bay Junior High
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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MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association