More than two dozen Michigan schools join Building Healthy Communities program for 2013-2014 school year

Sep 10, 2013, 10:28 ET from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

DETROIT, Sept. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Students in 28 schools across Michigan have been selected to participate in the 2013-2014 Building Healthy Communities program to establish healthy lifestyles among schoolchildren and create healthy school environments, the partnership of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Fitness Foundation, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, University of Michigan and Wayne State University announced today.

"The University of Michigan's Project Healthy Schools, a middle school-based program designed to reduce childhood obesity and its long-term health risks, is excited to work with so many partners across the state that share the goal of creating healthy school environments and helping students form heart-healthy habits from an early age," said Dr. Kim Eagle, an A. Walter Hewlett professor of internal medicine, and director of the Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center, University of Michigan Health System. "The long-term benefits of the Building Healthy Communities program cannot be overstated in terms of its potential to improve the overall health of our citizens today and into the future; reduce health care costs that will benefit all of us; and help generations of Michiganders live healthier, more successful lives."

The Building Healthy Communities program educates students through classroom lessons, creates an environment that makes the healthy choice the easy choice, encourages students to practice lessons learned in the classroom, provides opportunities for physical activity during and after school and improves access to healthy food and beverages for elementary and middle school students.

The schools receiving the program for the 2013-2014 school year include:

  • Oakland County: 
    • Albert Einstein Elementary and Francis Scott Key Elementary in Oak Park
    • Halfman Elementary in Madison Heights
    • Hoover Elementary in Hazel Park
    • Mason Middle School in Waterford
  • Washtenaw County: 
    • St. Thomas the Apostle School in Ann Arbor
  • Wayne County:
    • Bernice McDowell Elementary and Holland Elementary in Taylor
    • Bryant Middle School in Dearborn
    • Cass Elementary in Livonia
    • Charles L. Spain Elementary-Middle School, Nevada Primary, Detroit Leadership Academy, EMAN Hamilton Academy, Most Holy Trinity, Golightly Education Center, and Noble Elementary-Middle School in Detroit;
    • Romulus Elementary, Romulus Middle School, and Summit Academy North Middle School in Romulus
    • Vandenberg Elementary in Redford
  • Huron County:
    • Laker Elementary School in Pigeon
    • Harbor Beach Elementary School in Harbor Beach
    • North Huron Elementary in Kinde
  • Lapeer County:
    • Borland Elementary in Imlay City
  • Genesee County:
    • West Bendle Elementary in Burton
  • Bay County:
    • T.L Handy Middle School in Bay City
  • Lenawee County:
    • Britton-Deerfield Schools: Deerfield Building in Deerfield

"Wayne State University is excited to work with leaders in nutrition and healthy lifestyles to help the next generation of Michiganders make healthy choices a priority in their classrooms and throughout schools," said Dr. Nate McCaughtry, director for the Center for School Health at Wayne State University. "Through programs like this, students, teachers and school staff are excited about making healthy choices, eating well, exercising and staying fit. Our program will help maintain the momentum we have built together and encourage people to make health decisions that could last their lifetimes."

"Michigan dairy farmers have played an important role for hundreds of years in producing quality nutritious food and we're proud to support a partnership that encourages children to eat well and stay healthy from a young age," said Sharon Toth, CEO of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan. "The ability to reach students across Michigan is a major step in our effort to bring healthy food and lifestyle choices into our classrooms.  Through healthy breakfasts, nutrition education and increased physical activity, we can build a stronger, healthier Michigan."

"Congratulations to all the schools that will take part over the next year in our programs designed specifically to help students in elementary and middle schools learn healthy behaviors and practice those lessons in an environment that makes the healthy choice the easy choice," said Shannon Carney Oleksyk, registered dietitian and healthy living advisor for BCBSM's social mission. "All the evidence and data show that when children are healthier, they are more likely to succeed in the classroom and beyond. These programs encourage children to make healthy choices at a young age, laying the foundation for a healthier, stronger Michigan future."

Building Healthy Communities is a comprehensive, school wide program created to fight childhood obesity. Since the inception of the program in 2009, over 35,000 students in 83 schools have been reached. For the 2013-2014 year, 28 school buildings, reaching an additional 12,500 students, will be implementing the Building Healthy Communities program. With its public, private and nonprofit partners, the Building Healthy Communities program continues to show a positive impact on students making healthy choices at a time when one in three children in the nation is obese or overweight and when the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in just 30 years.

"The Michigan Fitness Foundation is excited to work with all our partners to implement this important program in the coming school year and continue our 21-year history of providing Michiganders with tools and inspiration for building physical activity and healthful eating into their daily routine," said Marilyn Lieber, president and CEO of the Michigan Fitness Foundation. "Building Healthy Communities is an important step in encouraging even more students to become healthy by helping them gain the knowledge, attitudes and skills to both eat well and be physically active for life from a young age."

For more information on Building Healthy Communities, please visit

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.4 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan