Thank You for Your Support!

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Project Healthy Schools participated in the University of Michigan’s Giving Blueday on March 16th. We surpassed our goal of 35 donors and had a total of 50 donors graciously donate to our program. Thank you so much to everyone who helped to spread the word about our program with your friends, family, and colleagues. Your generosity will help keep the mission of PHS moving forward as we work to support the health and well-being of middle schools and their surrounding communities throughout Michigan. If you missed Giving Blueday 2022 and would like to support our program, you can donate here.

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Did You Know? We’re on TikTok!

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Blue CPHS has recently expanded our social media presence. We have joined the world of TikTok (pause for applause)! Please connect with us by searching for Project Healthy Schools on this new engaging platform where we will take you behind the scenes into the world of school health and wellness. If you haven’t already, please also connect and check in with us on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts as well. We can’t wait to share our health resources and success stories with you and your surrounding community. See you there!

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Embrace the Great Outdoors with Forest Bathing

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In our last newsletter, we empowered you to spring into action by increasing your daily physical activity as our temperatures slowly improved. Now that summer is on the horizon, how can we further take advantage of the amazing Michigan summer weather and utilize the great outdoors to enhance our physical and mental health well-being? Surround yourself with nature and try something new, such as forest bathing! Forest bathing began in Japan back in 1982 and has since grown in popularity around the world. Here is a fun video that showcases a forest bathing experience in Honolulu, Hawaii. The great state of Michigan has so many amazing hiking trails and forests to explore. Why not become your own guide and immerse yourself in the great outdoors? For added safety, explore with a friend, stay on well-groomed trails, and avoid ticks. Enjoy your summer and reap the benefits of nature!

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Wellness Grant from PHS Supports Outdoor Physical Activity at Schools

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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!

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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

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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!

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

Apply Now to Join the BHC:PHS Program

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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!

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SPRING into Action with Physical Activity!

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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

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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!

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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!