The Michigan School Wellness Award application is now open! Schools can apply here by Friday, April 28th at Midnight EST. All PHS schools who apply have a strong chance of receiving one of the four levels of awards: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Honorable Mention. We highly encourage all PHS schools to apply for this state-wide recognition since you are doing great work in supporting school wellness within your local community. Please visit the SWA website here for more information. If you have any questions or need any help with your award application, please reach out to your PHS wellness coordinator.
Congratulations to the following 4 schools who applied and received full awards for the Winter PHS Wellness Grant cycle. There are two grant cycles offered each year for year 3 and older schools. Schools can apply for up to $1,000 each grant cycle ($2,000 per school year) to support the wellness needs of their students and staff. Please reach out to your PHS wellness coordinator if you are interested in applying for a future wellness grant!
- Blesch Intermediate School – PE Equipment
- Beacon Day Treatment – Cooking Class Demonstration Mirror
- Aspen Ridge Middle School – Bicycle Safety Program & PE Equipment
- Almont Middle School – Fruits & Vegetables for tastings/smoothies & PE Equipment
Testing season is upon our schools. As teachers work tirelessly day-in and day-out to support their students during this stressful time, we want to make sure we are supporting our teachers. There are several resources located in the PHS Portal we have created for supporting staff wellness for our schools. Please take advantage of our PHS resources as we enter the spring testing season.
Under the “Education” tab we have Teacher Self-Care Training Modules. In collaboration with TRAILS, a program aimed to improve access to evidence-based mental health services and resources, the PHS team is pleased to offer this four-part series (introduction to self-care, mindfulness, getting active for mental health, and cultivating joy) to support emotional wellness for teachers and students. During each of the four 30-minute sessions facilitated by your PHS wellness coordinator, participants will work to cultivate their own emotional wellness through learning opportunities, meaningful discussions, and short activities. These sessions are also a great resource for students and include access to numerous additional resources to promote emotional wellness. For more information regarding these sessions, please reach out to your PHS wellness coordinator. Under the “Wellness Initiatives” tab, we have 11 staff wellness event ideas that can be implemented into your school community. These events can be tailored to your school needs with the hope of engaging and supporting your teachers, staff members, and administrators on their wellness journey.
National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created 50 years ago in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. This year’s theme is “Fuel for the Future.” Eating with sustainability in mind is a tasty way to nourish ourselves during every phase of life and protect the environment. Here are 50 ways to get involved with National Nutrition Month. You can also engage your students with some fantastic National Nutrition Month resources found here.
Project Healthy Schools will be participating in the University of Michigan’s annual Giving Blueday on Wednesday, March 15th. 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. Please help us achieve our goal in receiving at least 50 donations. You can donate on the PHS Giving Blueday page located here. We work to create healthy school environments for our students and teachers and every dollar greatly helps in supporting our mission. Thank you for your generosity!
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? 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!
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.
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.
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!
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!