Nearly 150 Schools Statewide to Join Innovative Health and Wellness-Based Building Healthy Communities Program

by Meghan O'Brien

| 5 min read

DETROIT, Dec. 1, 2016 – Nearly 150 schools across Michigan were chosen to join the Building Healthy Communities program this 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 230,000 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 participating in the Building Healthy Communities program, on average experience:
  • 40 percent more fruit and vegetable consumption than the national average
  • 700 step increase per day
  • 35 additional minutes per week of moderate and vigorous physical activity
  • 19 minutes less screen and video time per day
  • 26 percent more participation in school sports
  • 130 percent more energy reported
  • 74 percent increased attention span in class
Building Healthy Communities has been an enormous success in Michigan, helping hundreds of thousands of students stay active and make better food choices,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Strategy, Government and Public Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “As schools implement healthier initiatives, we’re seeing the benefits extend beyond the classroom as well. On average, students that take part in this program report that they are more active, burn more calories and eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers. This is extremely valuable, as we know healthy habits established early in life are likely to be carried into adulthood.” 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. Nick Lyon, director at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said, “Thanks to the Building Healthy Communities program, more students in Michigan are developing healthy habits that improve classroom performance and enhance quality of life. We are proud to be a part of this innovative partnership as we continue our fight against childhood obesity. By encouraging healthy habits today through nutrition education and physical activity in our schools, we are giving students more opportunities to succeed and to develop into healthy adults.” “Building Healthy Communities has been a valuable partnership that has allowed our schools and school meal programs to work together to help students be more fit, healthy and ready to learn,” said Marla Moss, director of the Office of School Support Services at the Michigan Department of Education. 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 obesity epidemic is a public health emergency. By helping shape healthy behaviors at an early age, we are making a lifelong impact on health. We are pleased to report significant, sustained decreases in cardiovascular risks among students who participate in our middle school program,” said Kim Eagle, M.D, Albion Walter Hewlett Professor of Medicine, Professor of Health Management and Policy in the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and Director, Frankel Cardiovascular Center, University of Michigan. Dr. Nate McCaughtry, director of the Center for Health and Community Impact at Wayne State University said, “Our Center for Health and Community Impact has been proud to work with schools across Michigan for the past six years in an effort to improve the health status and academic achievement of nearly 100,000 children. The research and evaluation of Building Healthy Communities suggests the program has important impact in the areas of physical activity, obesity reduction and prevention, healthy eating, educational performance, quality of life, and healthy school reform. It's truly helping to move the needle in childhood success.” “This project continues to be a win on so many levels. State partners have come together to provide unified programming to help students be more active and eat more healthfully at school; and the results, to date, prove that we are more powerful when we work together,” said Amy Moyer, vice president of School Programs and Field Operations at Action for Healthy Kids. J.J. Tighe, president & chief executive officer at the Michigan Fitness Foundation said, "Creating healthier communities that support having regular access to healthy food options and increase access to regular physical activity is the foundation for building a healthier Michigan. Collaboration and partnerships between organizations in our communities to support this effort and to establish healthy habits early in our schools is critical to improve lifelong health for our children. The Michigan Fitness Foundation is excited to continue this partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Department on Health and Human Services, and our partners across the State to support Building Healthy Communities." The schools receiving the program for the 2016-2017 school year include:
Elementary School ProgramProgram Partners
Academy of Warren Alexander Elementary School American International Academy Amerman Elementary School Barkell Elementary Bellevue Elementary Botsford Elementary School Christ the King Catholic School Coleman Elementary Courtade Elementary School Detroit Merit Charter Academy Douglas Road Elementary East Jackson Elementary School East Jordan Elementary School Elmwood Elementary Endeavor Charter Academy GEE Edmonson Academy Grandport Academy Grandview Elementary School Hartland Round Elementary Haverhill Elementary Highland Elementary School Hillman Elementary School Hope Academy Lincoln Elementary MacGowan Elementary School Maples Elementary Michener Elementary Michigan School for the Arts Riverside Elementary Riverside Elementary School Sheiko Elementary School Soo Township Elementary School Susick Elementary Thomas A. Edison Elementary School Tipton Academy Washington Elementary School Westwoods Elementary School William J. Myers Elementary School Zenib Ali Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact United Dairy Industry of Michigan Michigan Fitness Foundation
Middle School ProgramProgram Partners
Boyne City Middle School Cherryland Middle School East Middle School Ellington Academy of Arts & Tech. Ferndale Middle School MacDonald Middle School Marshall Greene Michigan School for the Deaf Sault Area Middle School St. Charles Borromeo Surline Middle School Wolfe Middle School Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Michigan Department of Health and Human Services University of Michigan
Step-Up for School Wellness ProgramProgram Partners
Alcona Elementary School Allen Park Community School Anna M. Thurston Middle School Beacon Elementary Bradford Academy Brown City Elementary Burns Elementary-Middle School Byron High School Cass City Elementary Cherry Knoll Elementary School Chikaming Elementary Clinton Elementary School Clinton High School Clinton Middle School Concordia Lutheran School Congress Elementary Coopersville East Elementary Coopersville South Elementary Covert 6-12 Covert K-5 Davis Middle School Detroit Premier Academy Detroit Service Learning Academy Drummond Island Dudley STEM Elementary Eaton Academy Emerson Elementary Emma V. Lobbestael Elementary Ewen Trout Creek School Fancher Elementary Fennville Elementary Freeland Middle School Gaylord High School Gaylord Intermediate School Gaylord Middle School Glen Lake Elementary K-6 Glencairn Elementary School Gordon Elementary Grand Blanc Academy Grand Rapids Christian Middle School Grand Rapids Ellington Elementary Greater Lansing Islamic School Hartford Red Arrow Elementary Hartford Woodside Elementary Hoover Middle School Hope Middle School Hopkins Elementary Ida High School Immaculate Conception Catholic School International Academy at Hull Lake Superior Academy Lakewood Elementary LaMora Park Elementary Leota Fielder Elementary Lighthouse Education Center Loren Eyler Elementary Luther L. Wright K-12 School Lyle Torrant Center M.G. Millet Learning Center Macomb Montessori Academy Manton Elementary Marble Elementary Minges Brook Elementary Moccasin Elementary Monroe Catholic Elementary Schools Multicultural Academy Oaktree Elementary Onsted Elementary Orion Oaks Elementary School Post Franklin Elementary Prairieview Elementary School Rogers Early Elementary School Sam Adams Elementary School San Juan Diego Academy Saranac Elementary School Schulze Academy Shay Elementary St. John Vianney Catholic School St. Patrick School St. Pius X Catholic School Sterling Elementary Surline Elementary Taylor Exemplar Academy Tecumseh Elementary Tecumseh Middle School Three Oaks Elementary Transitions Center Trillium Academy Triumph Academy Vulcan Middle School Westlake Elementary Whiteford Middle/High School Whittemore Prescott Jr/Sr High School William C. Abney Academy Elementary Woodview Elementary Ypsilanti Community High School Ypsilanti Community Middle School Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Michigan Department of Education United Dairy Industry of Michigan Michigan Fitness Foundation Michigan State University Extension Michigan Team Nutrition Action for Healthy Kids
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation are independent licensees 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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