Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan grants tackle childhood obesity

17 schools across the state receiving grants of $27,000 to $45,000 for 2009-2010 school year projects

June 18, 2009

DETROIT - Fighting childhood obesity will be part of the lesson for thousands of Michigan children this coming school year, thanks to grants of $27,000 to $45,000 being awarded to 17 Michigan schools and their community partners by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The grants are part of BCBSM's mission-focused effort to reduce the risk and prevalence of childhood obesity. In Michigan, 12 percent of middle school children, and 15 percent of high school students are considered obese.

This is the fifth straight year that the Blues have awarded Building Healthy Communities grants. For 2009-2010, schools must include four components in their program: an assessment tool to measure the overall health of the school environment; physical activity and nutrition education, using specific programs designated by Blue Cross; a walking club for students and faculty; and a celebratory 5K run or walk event.

"Reaching kids at an early age is essential because they develop habits that will last into adulthood," said Lynda Rossi, BCBSM vice president of Social Mission and Public Affairs. "Healthy eating and physical activity are important life skills that help children grow and prevent health problems, such as hypertension and diabetes, later in life."

"Although there is no clear-cut solution to solving the obesity epidemic, a sustainable, comprehensive population-based approach for intervention may help address the root causes and curb the increasing trend of childhood obesity," Rossi said. "Schools are integral to addressing the issue, but the best solutions involve the collective efforts of all stakeholders in the community."

One grant recipient is King Academy of Extended Learning and Technology in Mount Clemens. The school is partnering with the Macomb County Health Department. Principal Sharon Gryzenia stated, "Our school has been actively working to improve nutrition and the physical activity levels of our students and staff for the past two years. This grant from Blue Cross will enable us to further expand our commitment and continue our efforts to engage our community in healthier lifestyles. We are thrilled."

Other Southeast Michigan schools and their respective community partners are:

  • Jackson County: Hunt Elementary and the Fitness Council of Jackson in Jackson
  • Oakland County: Leonhard Elementary and Leonhard PTA in Southfield
  • Wayne County: Two University Prep Academy projects and JazzyKat Kids Inc. in Detroit, plus Lincoln Elementary and Oakwood Lincoln/Jefferson-Barns Healthcare Center in Westland

Central and Western region partners are:

  • Ingham County: Pleasant View Elementary and Sparrow Health System in Lansing
  • Berrien County: Seely McCord Elementary and Berrien County Health Department in Benton Harbor

Northern Michigan partners are:

  • Grand Traverse County: Traverse Heights Elementary and Blair Elementary, both partnering with the Michigan State University Extension in Traverse City
  • Wexford County: Franklin Elementary and District Health Department #10 in Cadillac

Upper Peninsula partners are:

  • Chippewa County: JKL Bahweting Elementary and Washington Elementary, both partnering with the Chippewa County Health Department in Sault Saint Marie
  • Delta County: Webster Elementary and Delta and Menominee Public Health Departments in Escanaba
  • Menominee County: North Central Elementary and Delta and Menominee Public Health Departments in Hermansville

Deckerville Elementary in Deckerville, Sanilac County, and Eisenhower Elementary in Flint, Genesee County, are running programs on their own.

Since 2004, the Blues have awarded more than $1 million in Building Healthy Communities grants to address childhood obesity among more than 100,000 school children throughout Michigan. Schools chosen for the grants are typically in areas of the state that have the potential for high rates of obesity and financial need.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has a unique mission that is different from other health insurance companies. The company is committed to focusing on reducing health care costs and improving quality, increasing access to health care coverage and services and improving the health status of Michigan's residents, particularly children.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. The company offers a broad variety of plans including: Traditional Blue Cross Blue Shield; Blue Preferred®, Community Blue℠ and Healthy Blue Incentives℠ PPOs; Blue Care Network HMO; BCN Healthy Blue Living℠; Flexible Blue℠ plans compatible with health savings accounts; Medicare Advantage; Part D Prescription Drug plans, and MyBlue℠ products in the under-age-65 individual market. BCBSM also offers dental, vision and hearing plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit

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