Education, Health Care, and Human Resources

Insurer seeks schools for anti-obesity program

March 4, 2016
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Schools interested in helping their students fight obesity and lead healthier lives can apply for the Building Healthy Communities program.

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.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan launched the private-public program in 2009 to address childhood obesity and teach kids healthy habits that can be carried into adulthood.

The program also is supported by the 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, University of Michigan, Wayne State University Center for School Health and Action for Healthy Kids.

To date, Building Healthy Communities has reached over 180,000 students in more than 390 Michigan schools.

Currently, 117 schools are implementing the program for the 2015-2016 school year, including Ridge Park Charter Academy, New Branches Charter Academy and Pine Ridge Elementary in Grand Rapids, and 18 other schools in West Michigan.

According to Blue Cross, students participating in the Building Healthy Communities elementary school program demonstrated a 28 percent increase in calories burned daily and ate 40 percent more fruits and vegetables than the national average for 6- to 11-year-olds.

Students also reported 130 percent more energy, 83 percent less trouble sleeping and an improved quality of life.

Schools interested in implementing the program can apply for either the Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program or Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness Program.

The Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program is a comprehensive program model designed for elementary schools, in which multiple healthy eating, physical activity and education opportunities are embedded throughout the school environment.

Schools can apply for the program here through March 30.

The Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness Program is a flexible model designed for grade levels K-12, to help educators make targeted improvements to the school environment through physical activity and nutrition components, such as physical education curriculum or toolkits to help incorporate breakfast in classrooms.

Schools can apply for the program here through March 18.

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