February Heart Month for PHS!


We are celebrating February Heart Month in concert with the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Each dollar that you donate to the Project Healthy Schools Fund through the #UMHealthyHearts portal will be matched 1:1 by donor Gary Andersen (so your contribution impact will automatically double). Please help us fundraise as much as possible with this incredible matching gift opportunity. The attached document showcases the impact your dollars (plus the matching dollars) can do for the network of 150+ middle schools we support throughout the state of Michigan. Now is the perfect time to provide a donation so PHS can support the physical health and mental health needs of our students and teachers. Please share this email with any contacts you may have that would be willing to donate to our important cause. To donate, please visit the #UMHealthyHearts portal. Click on Donate Now, choose the “UMH Project Healthy Schools” fund, enter your donation amount, and click Donate Now.

Love Your Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Many of these deaths and risk factors are preventable. The following health behaviors can dramatically improve your heart health:

Make Healthy Food Choices – Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods from all 5 food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, dairy). Americans do not consume enough fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack and enjoy the added flavors, textures, and colors they add to your food. Add more healthy fats (avocados, nuts, olive oil, fish) to your meals to help boost flavor, satiety, and vitamin absorption. Enjoy increased hydration by drinking more water. Add chopped up fruits (kiwi, watermelon, oranges, lemons, limes) to your water to add flavor in a healthy way. Be creative, have fun, and enjoy cooking and eating healthy foods with others!

Be Physically Active – Regular, moderate physical activity lowers blood pressure and helps your body control stress and weight. Be physically active in your own way and do activities that you enjoy (walking, hiking, jogging, running, bicycling, dancing, yoga, swimming, sports). All movement adds up over the course of the day. How can you add variety to your everyday movement? Start small and gradually add time and intensity to further strengthen your muscles and cardiovascular system. Seek support and guidance from a professional if needed to help begin your physical activity journey. Have fun, be creative, and invite friends and family to join you!

Manage Stress – Life can be challenging for everyone. Everyday stress can add up over time and put excess strain on the heart. Removing all stress from your life is not the goal, but learning how to manage your stress, as well as lowering its severity, can vastly improve your overall mental health. Eating healthy foods and increasing your physical activity will automatically help reduce your stress levels. Add in additional behaviors like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, sitting or standing stretches, and making a gratitude journal, will take your stress management toolbox to the next level! Don’t forget about the power of building community around you. Reach out to friends and family to create strong social connections. We as humans thrive when supported and surrounded by others who care about us. You can also surround yourself with the great outdoors and nature, as well as the comfort of pets and animals, to help connect you to both yourself and the surrounding environment!

Remove Tobacco Products – Tobacco products increase our risk for heart disease. Don’t smoke or use vaping products. Consult with a professional if you need support in quitting. Replace this behavior with the healthy behaviors listed above to keep your mind and body occupied. Reach out for the support of your family and friends as you move toward a tobacco-free lifestyle!

Lastly, please feel free to attend the virtual events offered on the Frankel CVC Heart Month page. These workshops will discuss healthy eating, physical activity, mental health, substance abuse, and focus on how our health behaviors directly impact our heart health.

Did You Know? (January 2023)

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Did You Know? Project Healthy Schools and Blesch Intermediate School in the Upper Peninsula were spotlighted within a U-M Media article called “This is Michigan”. Please check out the written article here and supporting video here. We are so excited to share our school success story with everyone!

Did You Know? The PHS Wellness Grant Winter Cycle is open from December 1, 2022 to January 31, 2023. All eligible schools were contacted by their PHS wellness coordinator with the details. We look forward to hearing more about your wellness grant ideas in January!

Congrats and Great Job! Congratulations to Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy and Great Lakes Learning Academy for winning the PHS Wellness Bingo Contest! Each school has won $500 in wellness funding to support student and staff wellness initiatives of your choice. Thank you for your participation and great job for your amazing efforts in the wellness contest!

Melissa Boguslawski Represents USA at Weightlifting World Championships


PHS Program Manager, Melissa Boguslawski, competed and represented the United States of America in early December at the 2022 IWF World Masters Weightlifting Championships in Orlando, Florida. This is an annual international competition where each country sends a selected number of masters Olympic weightlifters to compete against other lifters from around the world. Melissa placed 7th in the world in the 35–39-year-old age group in her respective weight class, competing in the snatch and clean and jerk. You can watch Melissa compete here at the following time stamps: 4:19:15, 4:23:28, 4:26:24.

Congratulations Melissa!

We are so proud of your amazing talents and efforts as you accomplish your personal weightlifting goals. We look forward to rooting you on as you continue your training.

Say Hello to Blue, Breckenridge’s Therapy Dog


Blue is a 4-year-old Labrador retriever who has been coming to work since he was 8 weeks old. He is a trained and certified facility therapy dog who serves the students and staff at Breckenridge Middle/High School. He is based in Mrs. Willman’s room (his owner and handler) but is utilized by the entire school. The counselors and interventionalists use him when they have students who need regulation. The teachers use Blue as a motivational tool for struggling students. He goes on walks several times a day with staff or students. He spends a large portion of his day in the special need classrooms as well. Research shows that animal-assisted therapy can:

• Lower people’s blood pressure and stress levels.
• Increase levels of dopamine and serotonin.
• Improve physical well-being.
• Decrease anxiety.
• Dramatically increase positive mood.
• Ease social isolation and help children learn social skills.
• Help young readers gain confidence.

Allison Smith, an 11th grade student at Breckenridge, was diagnosed with epilepsy in January 2021, with seizures starting in November 2019. Allison has greatly benefitted from Blue’s presence every day at her school. They first connected during Allison’s 8th grade science class. “Practically every morning of my 8th grade year consisted of snuggles and cuddles from Blue. Most kids were completely enraptured by this dog and his cute little harness, spending any spare time in Mrs. Willman’s classroom just hanging around him, whether brushing out his fur, playing with toys, or simply watching him nap. In my junior year, I utilized Blue’s helpfulness toward my own mental wellness”, says Allison. In March 2022, Blue had his first seizure. “I’m set to graduate this May, whereas Blue will stick around the school for a while longer. We’re both doing well at the moment; I recently passed my year-and-a-half mark for being seizure-free, while Blue is still getting tested but hasn’t had a seizure in 8 months”, Allison exclaims!
If your school community would like to follow the adventures of Blue the Therapy dog, please follow and check-in with him on Facebook here (https://www.facebook.com/people/The-Adventures-of-Blue-the-Breckenridge-School-Doggo/100053004263079/). We look forward to more fun adventures to come with Blue!

10 New Middle Schools join Building Healthy Communities


The 2022-2023 school year brings 10 new schools to the Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools program, a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, University of Michigan, and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan.
Please join us in welcoming the following schools to the BHC:PHS program this school year:

  • Quest Charter Academy – Taylor, MI
  • Saginaw Preparatory Academy – Saginaw, MI
  • Holly Academy – Holly, MI
  • Academy for Business and Technology – Melvindale, MI
  • MacDowell Preparatory Academy – Detroit, MI
  • Joy Preparatory Academy – Detroit, MI
  • North Pointe Center – Dowagiac, MI
  • Hart Middle School – Hart, MI
  • Breckenridge Middle/High School – Breckenridge, MI
  • Pontiac Academy for Excellence – Pontiac, MI

Our 10 new schools are thrilled to be embarking on their wellness journey as they make positive strides over the coming year to improve the health and wellness of their students, staff, and school community. Jasmine Willis, Dean of Quest Charter Academy, says, “Not only are we passionate about making sure our students are academically prepared, but we also emphasize social/emotional and physical well-being.” Please join us in welcoming these tremendous schools to the BHC:PHS family!

Wishing you a Safe and Healthy Holiday Season


As 2022 comes to a close, we cannot help but reflect on all that we have accomplished with each and every one of our schools, community partners, donors, colleagues, and friends. Project Healthy Schools is celebrating its 18th year creating healthy school environments across the state of Michigan. We would not be here without each and everyone of you! Thank you for your amazing efforts and support in helping our students, staff, and school communities work towards a healthier version of themselves. Please take the coming weeks as a time to reflect, rest, nourish, and perform self-care. We look forward to seeing you all in January 2023 as we continue our mission together. Happy Holidays from PHS!

Did You Know? (November 2022)

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PHS is currently hosting a Healthy Bingo Contest! This fun and engaging contest is being held during October and November. All PHS schools who have been with the program for at least one full academic year or longer are eligible to participate (1st year schools are not eligible). The bingo card has 25 spaces that each include a healthy action you can take to improve the health culture of your school. How many spaces can you achieve? The more bingos you get, the more times your school will be entered into the contest to win a $500 prize that will support health and wellness at your school. Two schools will win! All bingo cards are due by Wednesday, November 30th. Please reach out to your PHS wellness coordinator if you have any questions or did not receive your electronic bingo cards. Good luck and have fun!

October is National Farm to School Month


In celebration of National Farm to School Month, the PHS team took a field trip to visit the University of Michigan Campus Farm on Wednesday, October 12th. The campus farm at Matthaei Botanical Gardens is a student-driven multi-stakeholder living learning lab for sustainable food systems work built around principles of food grown by students for students, on-farm carbon-neutrality, diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, in a learning community that fosters student leadership development and high-impact teaching, research, and learning opportunities. The farm offers many intern positions, and they are hoping to create educational programs in the future for local schools to visit the farm in person.

The campus farm utilizes solar hoop houses, heated only by the sun, to produce locally grown crops, such as spinach and kale, for MDining, Maize and Blue Cupboard, and on-campus farmers market year-round. The farm’s produce truly goes full circle, representing this unique concept of being grown by students for students, showcasing their true farm to table model. Now that’s what we call eating local!

MDining, located at the University of Michigan, is comprised of twelve on-campus cafes, seven markets, seven residential dining halls, a line of Blue to Go foods, and Michigan Catering unit. MDining prides itself on emphasizing creative, healthy, and nutritious foods, international cuisines, and sustainability throughout all dining operations. The Maize and Blue Cupboard, also located at the University of Michigan, works to ensure all members of the university community (students, faculty, and staff), whether on a tight budget or physically restrained from getting to a grocery store, receive equitable access to healthy, nutritious, and nourishing food and the ability to prepare it for themselves and others. The cupboard provides food, such as produce, dairy, meat, bread, frozen and shelf-stable foods, kitchen and cooking items, such as dishes, silverware, pots and pans, Tupperware, cutting boards, knives, and personal and household items, such as trash bags, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, school supplies, baby items, as well as connects patrons to other campus and community resources.

The PHS team had a wonderful campus farm experience and gained further knowledge of the amazing resources and partnerships taking place within our own university community. We left feeling inspired! How will your school celebrate National Farm to School Month? We encourage you to post photos on your school’s social media, and to tag @projecthealthyschools, so we can share your story with others!

Wellness Grant Awarded to Nine PHS Schools


Please join us in congratulating the following schools who applied and received a Fall PHS Wellness Grant. Each of these schools were funded up to $1,000 to support their requested health and wellness initiatives designed specifically for their school community.

Pierce Middle School –Youth Roller Skates
Hillman Junior & Senior High School – Playground Trio Musical Equipment
Newberry Middle School – Smoothie Supplies; PHS Lesson Supplies
Blesch Intermediate School – PE Equipment
Rudyard Elementary School – Staff Wellness Treadmill
Cherryland Middle School – Wilderness Survival Supplies; Snow Fort Building; Pickleball; Dodgeball
Almont Middle School – Pickleball; Volleyball; Fruits & Vegetables for Smoothies & Tastings
Aspen Ridge Middle School – Garden & Hydroponic Supplies; Bike Supplies
Boyne City Middle School – Hydroponic Garden Supplies; Smoothie Blenders; PHS Lesson Supplies

We are thrilled to support these wellness initiatives and look forward to hearing great success as these PHS wellness grants are implemented during the current school year. For those schools interested in applying for the next round, the Winter PHS Wellness Grant application will open on December 1st and close on January 31st. This grant opportunity is for PHS schools who have been with the program for at least two full academic years or longer (1st and 2nd year schools are not eligible). Congratulations again to our fall wellness grant recipients!

PHS and Partners Investigate the Impact of COVID-19 on School Meals


In partnership with MCORRP, PHS is excited to share our collaboration on an NIH-funded research study with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB). This study, titled “Investigating the Impact of COVID-19 on School Meals: A Mixed-Methods Phenomenology of Rural, Suburban, and Urban Nutrition Directors” will give the teams of University of Michigan and UTMB an opportunity to learn about the experience that Michigan school food service directors had with providing meals to students both before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are still actively recruiting participants to share their experience with us! If you are a school food service director or know of one who would be willing to participate, we would love to hear from you. If you or your district’s food service director would like to participate, you will be asked to complete a demographic form and have an interview with a member of our research team. There will be one or two 30-60-minute interviews where we will ask questions about your perceptions, thoughts, memories, and emotions about your experience as a nutrition director.

Participants will be offered an electronic gift card worth $25.00 for participation and completion of the demographic forms and interview. No compensation will be offered to participants who do not complete the entire study. If participants are asked to do a second interview, they will be offered another $25.00 an electronic gift card.

If you would like to learn more about the study, please contact PHS Program Manager, Melissa Boguslawski at mkbog@med.umich.edu.

If you are interested in signing up and scheduling an interview, please follow the link below and a member of our research team will reach out to schedule your interview:


Learn more about MCORRP: https://www.med.umich.edu/mcorrp/

Learn more about the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston: https://www.utmb.edu/