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.

Apple Tasting Events Celebrate our New Schools


The 2021-2022 school year brings 6 new schools to the Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools program, a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the University of Michigan. As a celebration, all new schools held an apple tasting event during the fall semester. The apples were graciously donated by the Michigan Apple Committee, a long-term supporter of the PHS program. Each school received 3 varieties of Michigan-grown apples, an apple cutter, and tasting ballots. Events were held during the school lunch period, where students and staff were invited to sample 3 apple varieties and vote on their favorite apple.

These events brought awareness to the schools of the BHC:PHS program, the work of the Michigan Apple Committee, and the rich diversity of Michigan-grown apples. They also provided both students and staff the opportunity to learn which type of apple they liked best. Schools can use the voting results to provide their favorite apple more often within their lunchroom and school menus. Please join us in welcoming the following schools to the BHC:PHS program this school year:

Stevenson Middle School – Westland, MI
Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy – Grand Rapids, MI
Pathfinder Middle School – Pickney, MI
Boyd W. Arthurs Middle School – Trenton, MI
Woodley Leadership Academy – Saginaw, MI
Great Lakes Learning Academy – East Lansing, MI

Students Taniya Radden and Tanis Keaton participate with the Apple Tasting Event at Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy.

Is There too Much Sugar in Your Family’s Beverages?


Have you read a good beverage label lately? Labels can tell us exactly what is in a product, such as added sugar. Many of us don’t realize how much sugar there is in some of the beverages we drink. Sport’s drinks, for example, have become a staple after many types of athletic contests. But are they really better than water? If you looked at most sport drink labels, you would see that they typically have 8 ½ teaspoons of sugar (per 20 ounces)! And soda generally has over 16 teaspoons of sugar in every 20 oz. bottle. Is this really what we would like our families to drink?

While there may be some instances where different beverages are acceptable, you should generally encourage your family to drink more healthy beverages like water, fat free milk, or 100% juice. You can even “spice up” a glass of water by crushing cool summer fruits in it (think: infused lemon water as an example).

Remember that your children look to you to lead by example. So, reach for a healthy beverage the next time you would like something to drink, and your healthy modeling will have your family following suit! “Drink more water” –it’s what’s good for you.

Welcome Grace James to the PHS Team!


The PHS team is thrilled to introduce our newest team member and Wellness Specialist, Grace James. Grace is joining PHS with a master’s degree in health service administration, a bachelor’s degree in public health education and she is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). Her previous work includes working in COVID-19 response for public and private K-12 schools and she has worked with school-aged populations for eight years. She’s a great fit with the PHS team with interests in cooking, gardening, and walking her dog Lucky – she even worked on her bucket list and went skydiving this past summer! Grace will be working with our new PHS middle schools for the 2021-2022 school year as well as supporting the ongoing health and wellness efforts of Project Healthy Schools. Welcome to the PHS community, Grace!

PHS Unveils New Wellness Grant Program!

PHS schools who have completed at least two years in the program (and who are not supported by other PHS grants) are specially invited to apply for a PHS wellness grant in the school year 2021-22. This exciting opportunity provides schools with up to $800 in funds twice per year to support school-wide wellness initiatives that can positively impact the health and wellness of students and staff and your school environment.

The fall application is open from August 1st thru September 30th and awards will be announced by October 15th. The winter application will be open from December 1st thru January 31st and awards will be announced by February 15th. Invited schools can apply to both of these opportunities with the potential of receiving up to $1,600 total for the 2021-2022 school year. Once awarded, schools will need to report the success of their wellness grant by visiting the PHS Portal and completing the Step 4 and Step 5 reporting requirements where they describe their wellness initiative(s) and provide two success stories with two supporting photographs of the wellness grant in action.

The PHS team looks forward to reviewing your applications and supporting your school’s health and wellness needs with this new funding opportunity!

Project Healthy Schools New Manager, Melissa Boguslawski


I am thrilled for the opportunity to introduce myself as the new Program Manager of Project Healthy Schools. What a wonderful summer it has been already! I come to PHS with over ten years of school-based health experience and have traveled around the country working alongside schools in Michigan, Mississippi, Indiana, and Florida. This proud Michigander is excited to finally be back on Michigan soil and is ready to serve our students across our great state! My education background includes a PhD in Health Behavior and a minor in Education Law and Leadership, a Master of Public Health degree, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Exercise & Health Science. I’m excited to have the opportunity to bring my work and education experience to PHS to help support the ongoing and future efforts of Project Healthy Schools.

The team at PHS has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming school year, and we are excited to be back with our returning PHS schools as well as the newest schools who will be joining us for the first time. Our wellness coordinators have done outstanding work in terms of taking on new initiatives with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and have made updates to our PHS curriculum. We’re excited for you all to see the updates! The PHS team has been a tremendous support during my transition to my new role, and it is no wonder why you all back this outstanding program! I am looking forward to meeting you all in the future, whether virtually, via e-mail, or, hopefully, in person. Thank you for your continuing support of Project Healthy Schools!

Schools Eligible for Mini-Grant Funds

Examples of the FitDeck Exercise playing cards in which students com-plete different physical activities based on the cards’ suggestions. 

Beginning in the Fall of 2020, Project Healthy Schools ran a pilot program with several schools in which the schools, after completing their first three milestones (forming a Wellness Committee, conducting School Wellness Assessments, etc.) were able to apply for a wellness-based mini-grant of up to $1000 dollars!
The program went very well, with several schools participating. Some of the grants applied for and received were those for an outdoor garden, scooters and 9 Square (see the Bryant Middle School article), Kitchen Aid stand mixers, FitDeck Exercise playing cards (see below) and more.

More schools than ever will be eligible for these wellness mini-grants beginning August 1, 2021. Contact for more information! 

Shining Star Bryant Middle School


Bryant Middle School, in Dearborn, Michigan, is one of the Project Healthy School’s Shining Stars this year. The PHS program at the school, led by P.E. teacher Eric Quine, uses the “9 Square game” for some of their PE classes.

“ The kids come into the gym, see the setup and get very excited”, Quine says. “ The game is catching fire at Bryant Middle School. This equipment has allowed us to introduce new games to the kids, and we are very thankful!”

In addition to 9 Square, the school has purchased some scooters for use in their PE classes. This purchase has allowed them to play games such as scooter soccer, scooter basketball, and they also put on some flat-out competitive scoot-er races!

Nice job Eric and Bryant Middle School! Keep up the good work!
NOTE: Bryant was able to purchase these items with a mini-grant from Project Healthy Schools.

The UMove Challenge


In early May of this year, PHS Staffer Jacob Robidou began a physical activity challenge with the following Detroit Schools:

  • University Prep Science and Math
  • University Prep Academy
  • University Prep Art and Design

The challenge was set up to help motivate both students and staff to move more on a daily basis. It runs from May 9—June 11th.

Students and staff set goals, then track and report out on their daily physical activity. There are incentive prizes available at the conclusion of the challenge to the top participants.

Nice job to everyone involved—keep that physical activity going!

Project Healthy Schools makes an impact in the Upper Peninsula


Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) has a higher percentage of individuals living in poverty than the state average and several counties also have obesity rates above the state average. In 2014, The University of Michigan’s Project Healthy Schools
(PHS), with support from the Superior Health Foundation and the Building Healthy Schools partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, launched the Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools program in two U.P. schools. The program is now in 13 out of 15 counties across the U.P., for a total of 21 U.P. schools.
The U.P. is known for its long winters, which means a shorter growing season, fewer farms, and less access to fresh produce. Other barriers to wellness in the U.P. include lower levels of physical activity during the winter and increased access to convenience and fast food. Project Healthy Schools is working to overcome these barriers.

“The schools in the U.P. have really embraced the PHS pro-
gram,” said Brad Newman, PHS grants and wellness coordinator for the U.P. schools.
“They really appreciate the resources and support provided by the program and are using them to make a difference in students’ lives and to change school cultures.”
Laurie Johnson, the co-wellness champion at Manistique Middle & High School said, “I feel it is so important to educate and show children that there is a wide array of healthy and nutritious foods out there that actually taste good. It’s also important to show them how much fun exercise can be and how great you feel afterward. The benefits are a bonus. PHS has such a great curriculum with support and tools that are tried and true!”

“The greatest impact on my students has been through the discussions about reducing screen time and increasing physical activity,” said Jody Smith, wellness champion at Rudyard Elementary School. “So many students have made a real effort in trying to make better choices. It’s a great curriculum to start those life-changing conversations.”
Caitlynn, a student at Newberry Middle School, said, “After I learned how important it is to eat breakfast, I thought I would try to wake up earlier and eat breakfast. I found that I was doing much better in school because of eating to start my day.”
“I enjoyed many of the PHS lessons, but especially liked the salad lesson,” said Chelsea, a sixth-grade student at Sault Area Middle School. “I had never tried a lot of the things that were in the salad. I also loved our new kickboxing equipment during PE class.”
While the PHS curriculum helps students understand how nutrition and activity influence their lifelong health, the school-wide wellness initiatives let them practice making healthy choices and expose students to new foods and activities that many have never tried before. For example, Wakefield-Marenisco School students tried snowshoeing on a local trail and snow tubing as part of the Winter Wellness Month initiative. Students at Rudyard Elementary School went on a cross country skiing field trip. Aspen Ridge Middle School students grow fresh produce in a hoop house, and many schools hold healthy food tastings.
“I love Gala apples, I never tried that kind until we did the apple tasting. I make my Mom buy them now,” said Liam, a fourth-grade student at Blesch Intermediate School in Menominee.
“I have never had a green smoothie or kale. I tried the sample and I liked it, even though I thought it was going to taste bad! I will try to make this at home,” said a fifth-grade student at Father Marquette Middle School.
Mike Steber, principal of Washington Middle School in Calumet, summed it up this way, “PHS is an amazing program. It gave us the resources and encouragement to implement healthier options into our lunch program. I highly recommend PHS!
PHS hopes to expand to the last two counties in the U.P. next fall.