Building Healthy Communities Program

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We pay a high price for childhood obesity in our state. It affects children's health and school performance.

Building Healthy Communities works to create supportive school environments through healthy eating and physical activity.

We have three programs: The Step Up for School Wellness Program, the Elementary School Program and the Middle School Program. Read more about these programs in our program fact sheet

These programs:

  • Educate students through classroom lessons
  • Create an environment that makes the healthy choice the easy choice
  • Encourage students to practice lessons learned in the classroom
  • Provide opportunities for physical activity
  • Improve access to healthy food and beverages

Building Healthy Communities has an extensive history of measurable and demonstrated impact on improving the health of Michigan's children, including: 

  • A significant reduction in obesity
  • 40 percent more fruit and vegetables consumed than the neational average
  • 700 step increase per day
  • 35 additional minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  • 19 minutes less of screen and video time per day
  • 74 percent report that it was easier to pay attention in class

Who's eligible?

Any public, charter or private nonprofit school in Michigan is eligible regardless of their:

  • Free and reduced-price school meal percentage
  • Geographic location
  • Participation in other school wellness grants, programs or initiatives

If your school has already participated in a Building Healthy Communities program, you're not eligible to apply at this time. Here's a list of schools (PDF) that have participated.


Watch this video to see how Building Healthy Communities is helping Michigan kids get healthier. You can also watch the Detroit Lions visit to the Tenniswood Elementary school

Read this Issue Brief produced by the National Institute for Health Care Management (NICHM) Foundation that summarizes the program and its outcomes.


Our partners

We founded Building Healthy Communities in 2009 to fight childhood obesity and lead children to a healthier future. It's grown into a collaboration among organizations committed to improving the health of children and improving childhood obesity. The following organizations are participating in the program:


Tenniswood Elementary learns about obesity and diabetes

A Building Healthy Communities school spotlight

The MI Blues Perspectives Podcast team traveled recently to Tenniswood Elementary in Clinton Township to learn about Building Healthy Communities, a partnership program founded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in 2009 that engages schools in the fight against childhood obesity.

It’s a big problem all across the country. One in three children in the United States are now considered overweight or obese, putting them at higher risk for developing complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Read more about this event.


“These were conditions that were previously only seen in adults. So this has really been a big change for our country and around the world, having children having these types of health problems."
Shannon Carney Oleksyk, registered dietitian and manager of Building Healthy Communities for Blue Cross