UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – 210 Michigan schools have been awarded the Building Healthy Communities program to promote the health of their student body, according to an announcement from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) on Thursday.

The program has worked with schools in Michigan since 2009 to better incorporate healthy eating, emotional well-being, and physical activity for students.

The schools are able to apply for one of three program options within Building Healthy Communities: BHC: Reducing Health Disparities in Elementary Schools (grades K-5), BHC: Engaging Middle Schools Through Project Healthy Schools (grades 6-8) and BHC: Step Up for School Wellness (grades K 12).

In the Upper Peninsula, each of the following schools are included in the latest program award announcement in the Step Up for School Wellness program:

  • Aspen Ridge Middle School, Marquette County
  • Bark River-Harris Elementary School, Delta County
  • Bark River-Harris Jr./Sr. High School, Delta County
  • Big Bay De Noc School, Delta County
  • Burt Township School, Alger County
  • Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy, Menominee County
  • Norway Elementary School, Dickinson County
  • Powell Twp. Elementary School, Marquette County
  • Tri-Township School, Delta County
  • William G. Mather School, Alger County

BCBSM included the following about the benefits of the program in a release announcement:

BHC has a comprehensive school health philosophy that builds the fundamentals of healthy eating, emotional well-being and physical activity into opportunities and education for students and facilitates critical changes in the school environment.

BHC has a proven history of improving students’ health, including:

  • An increase in healthy foods consumed, with 40% more fruits and vegetables consumed than the national average
  • An increase in physical activity, including 700-step increase per day and 35 additional minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  • Increased academic achievement in math and reading, reporting 19 minutes less of screen and video time per day and 74% reported that it was easier to pay attention in class
  • Improved nutrition and activity behaviors associated with sustained improvement in known cardiovascular risk factors

In addition to BCBSM, the Building Healthy Communities Program is supported in Michigan by the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Michigan Recreation and Park Association, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Virtual, OK2SAY, SHAPE Michigan, Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact.

“The Building Healthy Communities program has a proven history of serving as an effective resource to help students improve their health and well-being,” said Ken Hayward, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan vice president and special assistant to the president for Community Relations. “As we continue helping children adopt better nutritional habits, encourage new ways to manage daily stressors and increase physical activity, we are collectively creating a healthier Michigan for everyone.”

You can learn more about the Building Healthy Communities program through BCBSM here or the State of Michigan here.