Wellness Grant from PHS Supports Outdoor Physical Activity at Schools


During the 2021-2022 school year, Project Healthy Schools awarded 22 wellness grants to eligible returning schools who applied during the fall and winter grant cycles. Schools were awarded up to $800 for each grant cycle to support health and wellness initiatives that would enhance the school wellness culture at their school for their students and staff. Blesch Intermediate School in Menominee, MI is located in the Upper Peninsula and has been a proud BHC:PHS school since 2019. Blesch loves to engage their students outside as much as they can. They created wellness initiatives where students came together and built snow forts outside using buckets purchased with their PHS wellness grant. They also used sleds purchased with their PHS wellness grant to keep their students physically active outside during the long Michigan winter. PHS wellness champion Wendy Rauch says, “One of the biggest impacts is that the PHS wellness grant has given our students the opportunity to experience activities that they otherwise would not have been able to experience. The wellness initiatives have made it possible to bring our student body together and participate in healthy activities in the classroom and outside. PHS has taught our students valuable health lessons that will be carried on throughout their lives. Our students are making better lifestyle choices. They are more engaged in positive recess activities and there are less behavior issues on the playground due to students concentrating and focusing on fitness activities.” Great job Blesch Intermediate School on your amazing ingenuity of keeping your students active and healthy amid a cold Michigan winter!

Students at Blesch Intermediate School in the Upper Peninsula utilize buckets purchased with their PHS wellness grant to make a snow fort that promoted outdoor physical activity.

Staff Wellness Success at New BHC:PHS School


Six new schools were welcomed into the BHC:PHS program in Fall 2021. One of these new schools is Great Lakes Learning Academy. Great Lakes Learning Academy is a tuition-free online public school for students who want a quality education with award-winning curriculum, certified teachers, and personalized learning plans. Although virtual, their office for staff to work out of is located in East Lansing, MI. As part of their wellness initiatives, GLLA decided to host an in-person smoothie bar for staff to utilize during lunch time for an entire week. They set up blenders, ingredients, and posted recipes for staff to follow. Some of their other wellness initiatives that are being utilized for both staff and students include a water drinking challenge, step and physical activity challenge, as well as a virtual cookbook for students to utilize at home. PHS wellness champion Shannon Donaldson says, “Project Healthy Schools has done a great job supplying GLLA with the resources needed to take health and wellness at our school to the next level. Being a virtual school, it is essential for our staff and students to set aside time to get moving throughout the day and learn the skills needed to eat healthy at home. We applaud PHS for recognizing that the health of students who attend online schools is as valuable as any other student.” Congratulations to Great Lakes Learning Academy on supporting their students and staff through creative and engaging wellness initiatives!

School staff at Great Lakes Learning Academy engage with their staff wellness smoothie bar

Apply Now to Join the BHC:PHS Program

PHS and BHC Logo

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the University of Michigan is partnering to bring the Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools program to new middle schools across the state of Michigan for the 2022-2023 school year. The BHC:PHS program is a comprehensive school-wide initiative designed to prevent childhood obesity and create healthy school environments. All public, charter, and nonprofit private middle schools who have not previously participated in a BHC program are invited to apply.

We will be hosting an informative webinar and Q&A session about joining our program on Tuesday, May 24th at 3:30pm EST. Please register for the webinar here. The webinar will be recorded and posted onto the RFA website listed below for those unavailable to attend.

Our request for applications is available here and officially closes on August 26, 2022 at 11:59pm EST. We look forward to welcoming new schools to the BHC:PHS program this coming fall!

PHS and BHC Logo

ACES Day & Bike and Roll to School Day!

ACES Day and Bike and Roll to School Day

If you post a photo of a student participating in ACES Day & Bike and Roll to School Day and tag @projecthealthyschools on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter by Friday, May 6th, your school will be entered into a contest to win $200 of physical activity supplies at the school’s discretion. If you would like assistance, reach out to your PHS wellness coordinator or reach us at projecthealthyschools@umich.edu. 

Check out walkbiketoschool.org and michiganfitness.org/events/bike-to-school-day for more information.

SPRING into Action with Physical Activity!


In our last newsletter, we discussed how macros, micros, and phytos are important nutrients and substances that can improve our overall health when we incorporate healthy eating into our daily life. Now that we’re fueled up with great nutrition, it’s time to spring into action and increase our physical activity! With winter soon coming to a close and spring on the horizon, now is the perfect time to dust off your walking shoes and get moving. Long gone are the days of having to go to the gym for a full hour workout. Research has shown that simply incorporating more movement and physical activity into our daily life, even in short bouts, can have a tremendous impact on our physical and mental health. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car at a further spot and walk to your destination, stretch while you wait in line at the grocery store, or get up from your desk and run an errand at least once every 30 minutes. At MHealthy we love to say, “The best position is the next position!” Whether you sit or stand at your desk, stagnation is not the goal. Change your body position as much as possible in order to keep your body in ergonomic tip top shape. 60 minutes of daily physical activity (simple movement) is the goal and you can achieve these minutes collectively throughout the day. Need more motivation? Set a realistic goal for yourself and track your progress or invite a friend to join you! Happy Spring from PHS!

PHS Team Gives Back with Free Bikes 4 Kidz


In the holiday spirit of giving back and being thankful for our local organizations that support student health and wellness, the Project Healthy Schools team came together in person on November 30, 2021 to spend the day volunteering at the Detroit-based Free Bikes 4 Kidz organization. Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a nonprofit organization geared toward helping all kids ride into a happier, healthier childhood by providing bikes to those in need. In 2021 alone, the organization collected almost 2,800 bikes which were then cleaned, maintained, and redistributed to underserved kids in the community. Over the last 4 years, FB4K has helped over 7,000 kids in the Detroit area receive a bike and a helmet. The PHS team spent the day cleaning newly arrived bikes so that they could be moved onward into the maintenance stage. We scrubbed, polished, and cleaned with great pride knowing our efforts would help serve this great organization in increasing the physical activity and health of our local youth. It was a great day!

New TRAILS for Mental Health Partnership Announced!


The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the need for social-emotional learning and mental health support for students and staff across the state of Michigan. To help support this need, the BHC:PHS program has partnered with another University of Michigan school-based program called TRAILS (Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students). In 2013, the University of Michigan initiated the TRAILS program to bring effective mental health care to school aged children and adolescents. BHC:PHS began to partner with TRAILS in 2020 with first offering all program schools access to the Teacher Self-Care Modules. With this program, PHS wellness coordinators facilitate four, 30-minute sessions, with school staff participants at individual schools to cultivate their own emotional wellness through learning opportunities, meaningful discussions, and short activities. In 2021, BHC:PHS expanded the TRAILS partnership and piloted their Tier 1 program to our 6 new BHC:PHS schools. This additional layer of programming provided social and emotional learning (SEL) for the classroom to promote resiliency and build self-regulation skills in all students. This new student curriculum offering, coupled with the self-care strategies for staff to counter stress and burnout, have had an enormous positive impact for our school communities. BHC:PHS is thrilled to announce that our partnership with TRAILS will continue onward as we further expand our collaborations into the 2022-2023 school year!

Support PHS on Giving Blueday March 16


Project Healthy Schools will be participating in the University of Michigan’s annual Giving Blueday on Wednesday, March 16th. This one-day (24 hour) fundraising campaign is designed to raise awareness and important funds to support amazing work happening across the university. Project Healthy Schools is honored to participate in this special event and looks forward to engaging our community donors once again. If 35 donors make a gift to Project Healthy Schools on March 16th, a challenge gift of $3,600 will be unlocked and added to our total fundraising dollars for the day. Please help us achieve our goal in receiving at least 35 donors. You can donate on the PHS Giving Blueday page located here. Thank you for your support in furthering the impact PHS can have across the state of Michigan with student health!

Macros, Micros, & Phytos!


In our previous newsletter, we highlighted the importance of hydration. How are your increased hydration habits going? Believe it or not, water is a nutrient, and the most important nutrient our bodies need to survive and thrive. But there are many other nutrients our bodies need as well. As the current pandemic has shown, our daily lifestyle choices can greatly impact our current and future state of health, which can directly impact our bodies’ ability to counteract disease, in addition to other public health efforts, such as vaccination, mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing. In this newsletter, we’re going to highlight the importance of healthy eating with nutrient-dense foods that contain macronutrients, micronutrients, and phytochemicals.

Macro means “large” so our bodies need larger amounts of the macronutrients, which include protein, carbohydrates, and fats. There are healthy and non-healthy options within each of these categories, so we want to focus on consuming more healthy proteins (beans, nuts, soy, fish, eggs, chicken, turkey), healthy carbohydrates (whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free milk), and healthy fats (the unsaturated kind found in nuts and seeds, olive and canola oil, fish, and avocados).

Micro means “small” so our bodies need smaller amounts of the micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals. It is best to get your vitamins and minerals from healthy food choices instead of supplements whenever possible. Examples of vitamins include vitamin A, B, C, D, E and examples of minerals include zinc, iron, selenium, and potassium. Eating a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy) can help you achieve the amounts you need.

Phytochemicals are healthy chemicals that are found only in plants. Plant foods not only offer great fiber and water for our bodies, but various phytochemicals that can supercharge our health. Examples are beta carotene in carrots and sweet potatoes, lycopene in tomatoes and watermelon, and isothiocyanates and indoles found in cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower).

This holiday season, put your best fork forward, and choose foods and snacks that maximize your nutrient intake. And don’t forget that glass of water too! Happy Holidays from PHS!

PHS Awarded Safe Routes to School Grant


Project Healthy Schools, in collaboration with Programs to Educate All Cyclists (PEAC), received a one-year grant from the Michigan Fitness Foundation to implement the Safe Routes to School program within 8 PHS schools located within Detroit and Ypsilanti. PEAC is a non-profit organization located in Ypsilanti, MI that advocates for transportation equity for Michiganders with disabilities. Their travel training programs teach people how to ride bikes and public transit safely and independently.
The purpose of the Safe Routes to School grant is to provide middle school students with increased bike literacy and bike education through targeted programming efforts after school, or during Physical Education class, so they know how to safely ride, maintain, and fix a bicycle. The grant will also provide opportunities for students to increase their physical activity during the day and have safe transportation options to and from school. Students also can earn a bike through various programming opportunities based on the school’s participation with the grant or borrow a bike through an established bike library. Please join us in congratulating the following schools with their participation in this exciting grant opportunity in partnership with our friends at PEAC:

  • Summit Academy North Middle School
  • Paul Robeson Malcom X Academy
  • Dixon Educational Learning Academy
  • Hope of Detroit Academy
  • University Prep Art & Design Middle School
  • University Preparatory Science and Math Middle School
  • Washtenaw International Middle Academy
  • Ypsilanti Community Middle School
Student Major Dorsey participates with the bike education program at University Preparatory Science and Math Middle School.