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Schools encouraged to sign up for Building Healthy Communities to help kids learn to eat right, exercise

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Kids go off to school almost every day to learn reading, math, science and more. Now with the help of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Building Healthy Communities, they can also learn how to be a healthier person.

For the ninth year, elementary schoolers can fight childhood obesity and get healthier with common sense solutions with the school-based wellness program’s help.

Building Healthy Communities uses evidence-based, comprehensive, school-wide tactics to get everyone informed and more educated about their day-to-day decisions. Students, teachers and administrators are prepped in ways the school can become a healthier place.

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More than 230,000 students in more than 500 Michigan schools have been reached through Building Healthy Communities and nearly 150 schools started the program last year.

There are currently three programs available for the 2017-2018 school year:

  • Step Up for School Wellness Program
  • Elementary School Program
  • Middle School Program

Applications will be accepted for the Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program through March 29. Applications for Building Healthy Communities: Middle School Program and Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness will be announced later in 2017.

The Building Healthy  Communities programs are open to all public, charter, and non-profit schools in Michigan. Interested schools are encouraged to review full program descriptions and application information at www.bcbsm.com/buildhealth.

Since the program launched there has been a noticeable change in kids who have taken part.

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 six to 11-year-olds. Students reported 130 percent more energy, 83 percent less trouble sleeping and an improved quality of life.

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“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is committed to investing in the future of Michigan children and proud to partner with such great organizations throughout the state that share this same affinity for childhood health,” says Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of strategy, government and public affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Building Healthy Communities creates a positive impact on participating schools’ culture of health by providing the resources and education necessary to help children develop lifelong, healthy habits.”

The programs will:

  • Educate students through classroom lessons
  • Create an environment that makes the healthy choice the easy choice
  • Encourage students to practice lessons learned in the classroom
  • Provide opportunities for physical activity
  • Improve access to healthy food and beverages

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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.

“Through our statewide partnerships such as Building Healthy Communities, we are committed to continuing to make sustainable changes to ensure that school environments are supportive of healthy eating and physical activity,” says Nick Lyon director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Because we know that children who are exposed to healthy and supportive environments are more likely to live healthy lifestyles, partnerships such as these are vital to supporting new skills and knowledge through physical and nutrition education opportunities.”

For more information on Building Healthy Communities or to apply for any of the programs, visit bcbsm.com/buildhealth.

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