Expanded Partnership, Funding Opportunities Help Michigan Schools Tackle Childhood Obesity

Second graders at Stambaugh Elementary in Iron River learn about nutrition and made vegetable soup after the school won a Building Healthy Communities grant for the 2011-2012 school year.

When what was once considered a health issue of mild concern explodes into a full-blown epidemic, it’s time to not just act fast, but to act big.

That was the thinking that moved Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan when we turned our attention in 2009 to taking on the issue of childhood obesity. Our first move was to begin the Building Healthy Communities grant program to provide schools across the state with the funds they needed to get kids moving, eating healthier and adopting healthy lifestyles.

Since then, we’ve impacted the lives of some 24,000 kids across Michigan with these grants.

Now we’re taking the program even bigger by forming a partnership with the Wayne State University Center for School Health in the College of Education and the Michigan Fitness Foundation to enhance physical activity and nutrition education in schools and provide culturally relevant information and resources. The expanded Building Healthy Communities partnership will also help school staff and youth leadership promote school transformation and provide family education where it’s most needed. The program also benefits from the expertise and unique resources of each partnering organization.

Last week, we again began accepting applications from schools interested in getting on board with Building Healthy Communities. Those schools receiving the grant awards will find themselves with an additional $30,000 to support their efforts to make a real difference in the lives of Michigan’s kids. Applications are due by March 30, 2012, and can be found here along with grant award program details.

By going bigger, the Blues are taking the program exactly where it needs to go, said Lynda Rossi, BCBSM’s senior vice president of Public Affairs and chief of staff.

“This allows us to take that program and make it bigger and broader, to touch more kids and leverage the strengths of our partners, Wayne State’s Center for School Health as well as the Michigan Fitness Foundation and all the wonderful work they do,” Rossi said.

Following the advice we’re giving the kids, the goal now becomes to stay active. Only by bringing in more partners and extending the program’s reach into more underserved communities, can we come close to making the impact we’re hoping for.

Metro Detroit African American Churches Log More than 75,000 Miles in the Body and Soul BLUE Walking Challenge

Members of metro Detroit African American churches compete in the Body and Soul BLUE walking challenge sponsored by BCBSM and the American Cancer Society

Participants in the Body and Soul BLUE walking challenge sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and American Cancer Society warm up for physical activity with some stretching.

Members of African-American faith community throughout metro Detroit competed in our Body and Soul BLUE Challenge, a 10-week, incentive-based fitness competition sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the American Cancer Society.

The top three churches, based on the size of their congregation, each received grants of 1000 dollars to support their congregation’s health ministry efforts. Between the 12 churches that participated in the challenge, 75,057 walking miles were logged in total.

The Top Three Body and Soul BLUE Walking Challenge Churches

  • Tabernacle Baptist Church
  • Second Baptist Church of Detroit
  • New Ebenezer Baptist Church

This program is designed to combat health disparities in the African American community and help educate people about how they can integrate healthy habits into their daily routine, including good nutrition and exercise.

Health Disparities in the African American Community are Significant

  • 40 percent of African American men in Michiganwill not live past their 65th birthday.
  • African American women are more likely to die from heart disease than women of other races.
  • African Americans of both genders are much more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic population.

“Since I already walk quite a bit at my job, I saw the difference it made in my physical and mental health. I felt encouraged to incorporate healthy habits into other areas of my life, like eating better foods and staying active even when I am not at work,” said Pamela Martin, the top walker from Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church.

There are no losers in this challenge –every church and congregation member who participated is a winner. Good health is its own reward!

New Blue Cross partnership with U-M, Michigan hospitals aims to clear risk of blood clots in patients

Colloquially speaking, venous thromboembolism may not be much of a conversation starter. But the medical condition more commonly known as the blood clot plays a key role in driving up medical costs and preventable deaths in the U.S.

That’s why the Blues are partnering with the University of Michigan Medical Center and 16 other hospitals to reduce the risk of blood clots in hospitalized patients. It’s the latest of our ongoing efforts to improve patient care across the state.

Read more of this post