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Application Deadline for 2021-2022 School Year

May 31, 2021. 11:59 pm Eastern Time

Apply to Join Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools

Evidence is mounting that kids who eat well and are active do better in school. Would you like to create an environment at your school that supports and encourages healthy eating and physical activity? Could your students benefit from learning how to make healthy choices?

A partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the University of Michigan called Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools provides an opportunity for middle schools to participate in the program while building an environment for long-term sustainability. We are now accepting applications for fall 2021.

Apply to Join Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools

Evidence is mounting that kids who eat well and are active do better in school. Would you like to create an environment at your school that supports and encourages healthy eating and physical activity? Could your students benefit from learning how to make healthy choices?

A partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the University of Michigan called Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools provides an opportunity for middle schools to participate in the program while building an environment for long-term sustainability. We are now accepting applications for fall 2021.

Key Dates
May 18, 2021
Webinar with Q & A from 3:30pm to 4pm ET — Click Here to Register
June 18, 2021
Interviews completed (an interview with the school’s principal and selected wellness champion will be mandatory)
June 21, 2021
Selected schools announced (expect an email or phone call from us)
Fall 2021
Program implementation begins
Key Dates
May 18, 2021
Webinar with Q & A from 3:30pm to 4pm ET — Click Here to Register
June 18, 2021
Interviews completed (an interview with the school’s principal and selected wellness champion will be mandatory)
June 21, 2021
Selected schools announced (expect an email or phone call from us)
Fall 2021
Program implementation begins

Read the full program description

The Building Healthy Communities program is a collaborative partnership that works to promote healthy school environments in schools across Michigan. For more than a decade, the partnership has encouraged children and families to be active and eat healthy – and in doing so has reduced childhood obesity and increased school performance.  Click below to download our full program description PDF.

Program Responsibilities

Principal

The role of the administrator (principal or assistant principal):

  • Attend an on-site 1-2 hour program orientation.
  • Support the implementation and sustainability of all Project Healthy Schools components (assessment education, environment, measurement).
  • Participate on the school’s wellness team by attending meetings and supporting initiatives.
  • Communicate efficiently with the Project Healthy Schools coordinator and wellness champion to ensure timely delivery of program components.
  • Promote Project Healthy Schools throughout the school community (ex: district administration meetings, website, social media, school newsletter, principal blog, back to school assemblies, staff meetings, etc.).
  • Notify PHS if there are any staff changes at the school that will affect the implementation of Project Healthy Schools.

PHS Health Education Lessons

School Responsibilities:

  • Identify a class in the school day (minimum 45-minute period) where 10 Project Healthy Schools lessons will be taught to all students within a selected grade level (5th, 6th, or 7th).
    • It is strongly encouraged that the lessons are taught during health, physical education or a core academic class.
  • Identify teacher(s) to teach the lessons.
  • Schedule time for the teacher(s) to be trained (less than two hours total).
  • Identify space to store the provided lesson props and materials.

SEL Lessons

School Responsibilities:

  • Identify a class within each grade level where the 20, 30-minute TRAILS SEL lessons will be taught.
  • Identify teacher(s) to teach the SEL lessons.
  • Participating teachers will receive training prior to lesson implementation.

Wellness Champion

Each school must designate one or two people to serve as wellness champion(s) to lead the school in the successful implementation and sustainability of the Project Healthy Schools program. A stipend will be provided to reimburse the wellness champion(s) for their time.  A wellness champion is a selected staff member who has strong leadership potential and the capacity to build support for the program within the school community. They also should be organized, responsive, highly motivated and passionate about health and wellness.

The wellness champion will attend a two hour program orientation (virtual or on-site) and will assist the Project Healthy Schools coordinator with the following duties in year one and will transition to carrying out these duties on their own by the end of the first year:

  • Leading your school through an annual 5-Step approach to school wellness (as outlined in the program description).
  • Scheduling the lessons, teacher training, and other logistics as needed. The wellness champion will also help maintain and organize Project Healthy Schools props and make sure lesson disposables (food items, forks, etc.)are prepared.
  • Communicating Project Healthy Schools wellness messages to students, staff and families.
  • Sharing program updates with the Project Healthy Schools and the network of wellness champions.
  • Participating on the school wellness team and taking a leadership role as needed; also ensuring that the team works on a sustainability plan for future years to provide Project Healthy Schools lesson disposable items and secure materials needed for the program after the first year.
  • Organizing policy, systems, and environmental change initiatives and programs leading to a healthier school environment.
  • With guidance from your Project Healthy Schools coordinator, documenting program progress by submitting photos, quotes, success stories, and tracking program completion on the Project Healthy Schools Portal.

Upon award selection, schools will need to provide signatures of all school contacts participating in program implementation.

School Wellness Team

The school will be responsible for identifying school wellness team members before Project Healthy Schools begins and for arranging the first meeting.  A school wellness team is a group of people (students, staff, administrators, food service staff, parents, community members, etc.) with the common interest in creating a healthier school environment. The wellness team, with assistance from the Project Healthy Schools coordinator, will assess the school’s strengths, identify opportunities to enhance the healthy school environment and create an action plan. This team will be responsible for sustaining the program after the first year.

School Food Service

Schools will facilitate collaboration between Project Healthy Schools and the food service director regarding promotion of healthy food and beverage options, and, where possible, incorporate local produce/farm-to-school initiatives and student feedback on school meals.

Watch our Program Overview Webinar!

Welcome to the Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools webinar. During this introduction, staff from Project Healthy Schools (PHS) will provide a detailed program description including: 1) how PHS is improving the health and academic performance of students at no cost to participating schools, 2) resources, funding, and support provided by the BHC program partners, and 3) discuss expectations of participating schools. Staff will also discuss this year’s application process for the 2021-2022 school year, including deadlines and application tips!

Frequently Asked Questions

A successful wellness champion is a certified staff person at the school who has strong leadership potential, can effectively utilize data to inform decisions, is organized, responsive, has good follow through and has the capacity to build support for the program within the school and community.  It is also important that your wellness champion(s) be passionate about health and have a strong commitment to improving the wellness of staff and students within the school.  The wellness champion will also be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the curriculum.

It is our goal to involve as many schools as possible. Therefore, schools that were awarded another Building Healthy Communities program (Step Up for School Wellness, Elementary school program), or previously implemented Project Healthy Schools, are not eligible to receive this award. We do, however, encourage middle schools in the same district as a school that already has Project Healthy Schools to apply.

No. Our goal is to include schools with a variety of experience related to wellness programs and grants.  Schools that already have a wellness team and/or participate in other programs, such as Fuel Up to Play 60, are encouraged to apply, as well as those that have not been involved in wellness programs or grants.

School selection is based on several components, including:  1) level of commitment from school administration and staff to fully implement and sustain the Project Healthy Schools program beyond year one (including completion of the Healthy School Action Tools — Core Assessment and the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity topic area assessments); 2) placement of the Project Healthy Schools lessons into the students’ school day (preference is for schools where the lessons will be taught in physical education, health, or a core class of at least 45 minutes); 3) placement of the 20 TRAILS SEL 30-minute lessons within each grade level offered within the school, 4) establishment of a school wellness team (functioning or identified) that is comprised of a variety of school/community members; 5) commitment to implementing policy, systems and/or changes to the physical school environment to support health and wellness; and 6) a complete application and participation in a follow-up interview. 

Schools will be informed during the week of June 21st, 2021 of their selection status via an email message to the principal, wellness champion(s), and to the person that completed the application.

Three program requirements must be completed prior to program implementation: 1) the principal/administer overseeing the program and the staff member(s) selected to be the Wellness Champion(s) must participate in a school site or remote visit by a Project Healthy Schools wellness coordinator for a two-hour orientation prior to  September 30, 2021; 2) begin recruiting members form the school community to form a school wellness team, if you don’t already have one; and 3) complete the Core/Healthy Eating/Physical Activity Assessments from the Healthy School Action Tools (HSAT:  www.mihealthtools.org) prior to the orientation. Mandatory attendance is required from the Principal/Administrator overseeing the program and the staff member(s) selected to be the Wellness Champion(s) during the two-hour orientation.   Please also visit our website at https://www.projecthealthyschools.org/building-healthy-communities/ to find more information.

No. You will be assigned a Project Healthy Schools wellness coordinator who will work with school staff by providing on-site/remote support to implement the program in your school. This coordinator and other Project Healthy Schools staff will be responsible for purchasing items that are needed for the program and other school wellness activities, as agreed upon by the school and approved by the wellness coordinator.

Yes, the wellness champion(s) will be trained on reporting requirements for the Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools program. These items may include program updates, photos, quotes and success stories that will be recorded and submitted via the online Project Healthy Schools Portal.  Also submit stories to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services supported success story tool at: https://schoolsuccess.mihealthtools.org.

TRAILS (Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students) is a University of Michigan program on a mission to bring effective mental health care to all students.  As part of the Project Healthy Schools program, you will have access to the TRAILS Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum and support from TRIALS clinical experts.  The SEL curriculum equips classroom teachers across each grade level to deliver 20 developmentally appropriate, brief lessons, aligned with Michigan’s focus on student safety, health, and wellness.  Research shows that implementation of SEL is associated with increases in students’ academic achievement, test scores, self-regulation skills, and overall wellness; and decreases in classroom behavior problems.  SEL also helps prevent student stress, depression, and anxiety.  The TRAILS SEL lessons can be delivered in person or remotely, and cover the 5 SEL Competencies identified by the Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and endorsed by the Michigan Department of Education: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Responsible Decision-making, Relationship Skills, Social Awareness.  For more information on TRAILS, visit:  https://trailstowellness.org/.

Upon being awarded the program, the expectation is that the program continue year after year within the school by continuing to provide the Project Healthy Schools curriculum, annual assessment of the wellness environment, and using the assessment data to identify wellness goals and an action plan which drive environmental changes related to student and staff health/wellness.  The program is run with regular, on-site and remote staff support at your school from a Project Healthy Schools coordinator for the first school year.  Beyond the first year of programming, the Project Healthy Schools coordinator will continue to be available as a resource, by phone, email and occasional on-site or remote visits. Your school will remain an integral part of the Project Healthy School’s network.  Your Project Healthy Schools coordinator will work with your school on a long-term plan for sustainability. Project Healthy Schools strives to create sustainable programming that leads to meaningful change over time.

Complete your application at: https://www.projecthealthyschools.org/apply-now 

  • If you are unable to complete the application online, you may type up your answers to the questions in an email and send them to:  projecthealthyschools@umich.edu
  • The submission deadline is 11:59 p.m. on May 31st, 2021.

For questions, contact Jean DuRussel-Weston at (734) 764-0290 or jdurusse@umich.edu.

Before filling out the application

Provide your team with copies of the Request for Applications with enough time to review it so all team members will understand their program responsibilities. This is a comprehensive program that requires the engagement of the principal, teachers, wellness champion(s), food service director and wellness team members.

Tips for creating a competitive application

  • Write brief, clear responses.
  • Do not leave any items blank; use “N/A” if the question does not apply to you. Do not provide information that is not requested.
  • After you finish your application, review it to make sure that all items are answered. Have someone else read your responses to make sure they are understandable to someone that is not familiar with your school, programs, or staff.
  • Identify a health, physical education, or core curricular class (minimum of 45 minutes) to deliver the 10 Project Healthy Schools health education lessons to all fifth-, sixth, or seventh-grade students. Other classes such as an advisory or a homeroom period are not encouraged.
  • Identify a class within each grade level for all students to receive the 20, 30-minute SEL lessons.  
  • Identify wellness team members on the application to show that your school has the support it needs to be successful. Wellness teams can vary by school and can include representation from staff, administrators, food service, students, parents and other community members. This is a comprehensive program that requires the collaboration of the entire school community.
  • Demonstrate the principal’s/administrator’s level of support and commitment to successfully implementing and sustaining the program and highlight the wellness champion’s enthusiasm and ability to engage others in the health and wellness mission during your interview.

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