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

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:
Unknown block type "table", please specify a serializer for it in the `serializers.types` prop
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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association