Feb 28, 2018

Applications Open for Health & Wellness Programs for Local Schools

For the tenth year in a row, Michigan elementary and middle schools are invited to apply for Building Healthy Communities, a private-public initiative designed to fight obesity and improve childhood health through school-based wellness programming. Building Healthy Communities, originally created by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan 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.
Students participating in the Building Healthy Communities programming reported eating 40 percent more fruits and vegetables than the national average for six to 11-year-olds, 19 minutes less screen and video time per day and 35 additional minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.
“Improving children’s health continues to be a principal focus for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the outstanding partners of this program,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Strategy, Government and Public Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Together, we hope to see Building Healthy Communities continue changing the culture of health in Michigan schools by creating environments where it’s easy for students and teachers to develop and demonstrate healthy habits.”
Building Healthy Communities is supported by multiple statewide organizations, including 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, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, University of Michigan, Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact and Action for Healthy Kids, working together to address childhood obesity and teach kids healthy habits that can be carried into adulthood. Over 270,000 students in more than 600 Michigan schools have been reached through Building Healthy Communities and 131 schools started the program last year.
“We are proud to be partnering with and supporting so many Michigan schools in creating a culture of health for students and teachers every school year,” said Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Eating and physical activity patterns focused on making healthier, informed food choices, and being physically active can help students attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce their risk of chronic disease, promote overall health and support academic achievement.” 
There are three programs available through Building Healthy Communities to help meet the needs of Michigan schools for the 2018-2019 school year.  Interested schools are encouraged to review full program descriptions and application information at www.bcbsm.com/buildhealth.
Applications are currently being accepted for the Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program and Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools.
·         Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program - Applications will be accepted through April 13, 2018. Interested schools can also join an informational conference call at 10 a.m. on Mar. 2, 2018.  To join, call 641-715-0688 and enter pass code 517761#.
·         Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools -  Applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. on March 30, 2018.  Interested schools can watch a recorded webinar at www.projecthealthyschools.org/BHC.
 “The ability for us to reach the children of our state with health messaging is the biggest opportunity that there is,” said Kim Eagle, M.D, Albion Walter Hewlett professor of Internal Medicine, professor of Health Management and Policy in the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and director, Frankel Cardiovascular Center at Michigan Medicine. “I have absolute confidence that we are setting these kids up for a better chance for health later by what we’re seeing in the middle schools where the Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools program is implemented. The challenge in front of us is daunting, but I think we’ve shown that we can do it.  If we move this bar, we will reap the benefits of that for decades to come.”
For more information on Building Healthy Communities or to apply for any of the programs, visit bcbsm.com/buildhealth.

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 bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.

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