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!

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!

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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Photo by Řaj Vaishnaw on Pexels.com

Embrace the Great Outdoors with Forest Bathing


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!