Building healthy communities
DETROIT — Detroit Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford, in continuation of his partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), surprised nearly 300 students from three local Detroit-area schools during their visit to Ford Field this week. Students from Dixon Elementary, Henry Ford Academy and University Preparatory Academy – Ellen Thompson were invited to the home of the Lions to kick-off the 2010 Building Healthy Communities school year. During Stafford’s surprise visit, he spoke with students about the importance of being active and staying healthy.
|Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has been combating childhood obesity through its Building Healthy Communities (BHC) and related grants since 2004 and has awarded nearly $3.4 million to schools and community partners statewide.
“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is pleased to continue our partnership with Matthew Stafford,” said Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO. “Matthew has inspired many children in the community to get outside and be active. His passion for the cause shines when he is speaking to children about the importance of making healthy choices. The Blues look forward to leading Michigan to a healthier future by continuing to work with Matthew to address childhood obesity.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has been combating childhood obesity through its Building Healthy Communities (BHC) and related grants since 2004 and has awarded nearly $3.4 million to schools and community partners statewide. In 2010 alone, the Blues awarded grants of $20,000 to $50,000 to 22 Michigan schools and their community partners.
As part of BCBSM’s BHC program, there will be a continued emphasis on physical activity and nutrition education in each of the schools throughout the year. The Blues hope their partnership with Stafford will increase awareness of the importance of childhood obesity and further encourage Michigan children to make healthy choices.
“It was great to bring the students to Ford Field and lead them in similar exercises to what our team does,” said Matthew Stafford, quarterback of the Detroit Lions. “It was fantastic to see the excitement and energy the children have for being healthy and active. By connecting with children at a young age we can positively impact their future and help them live longer, healthier and happier lives.”
Students from the three local schools spent the morning at Ford Field learning about simple and fun ways to stay active and get plenty of exercise. Stafford, Loepp and event emcee Paul W. Smith led a pregame pep rally to motivate students about the importance of staying fit and healthy. Following the rally, students made their way to the field and participated in football warm-up drills, stretching and agility and aerobic exercises similar to how the Detroit Lions prepare for practice on a daily basis. BCBSM also invited other schools they’ve partnered with through childhood obesity initiatives and the general public to watch and participate in the event through a live webcast (//www.ustream.tv/user/HealthierMI).
“Today was a great opportunity to call kids to action and get them exercising and involved in physical activities. Many thanks to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Matthew Stafford for inviting us and making today possible,” said Dr. Ora Beard, Principal of Dixon Educational Learning Academy. “Every single person, including students, teachers, chaperones and myself, were inspired today and will walk away with a new commitment to living a healthier lifestyle. As a Building Healthy Communities grant recipient, our school will work hard to educate children about the importance of physical activity and nutrition.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Matthew Stafford will continue to work together to educate children and their parents about how to stay active and be healthy. The Blues partnership is part of the company’s unique social mission committed to creating a healthier Michigan by improving health status and increasing access to quality health care services. To learn more about the Blues’ Building Healthy Communities grant program, please visit www.bcbsm.com/buildhealth.
BCBSM walks the walk against childhood obesity
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan saluted schools around the state October 6 that “walked the walk” against childhood obesity by participating in International Walk to School Day. In 1997, the Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago, modeled after the United Kingdom’s lead.
More than 151 schools in Michigan registered to host walks with parents, teachers and city officials on Oct. 6. Some gathered for a healthy breakfast after the walk, or a school-wide assembly. Over 40 countries and millions of school children participated in International Walk to School to promote the health benefits of walking and the importance of walkable, safe communities.
“We are excited about the many Michigan schools participating in Walk to School Day. The activity directly aligns with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Building Healthy Communities childhood obesity prevention initiative which focuses on developing lifelong habits that encourage physical activity and exercise as part of the daily routine,” said Diane Valade, BCBSM director of social mission. “Healthy eating and physical activity are important life skills that, if successfully adopted and reinforced, will help children grow into healthier adults.”
Blue Cross recently awarded Building Healthy Communities grants to 22 Michigan schools and their community partners as part of its mission-focused effort to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity by increasing physical activity and improving nutrition. This is in addition to the 17 schools funded in 2009. Many of the schools participating in the Blues’ Building Healthy Communities program are kicking off the school year’s grant program with Walk Day.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 66 percent of America’s children walked to school in 1980. Today, only 13 percent walk or bike to school. As walking or biking to school has decreased, childhood obesity has escalated. In Michigan, 12 percent of middle school children and 15 percent of high school students are now considered obese.
“Healthy eating and exercise contributes to better focus, concentration, and energy,” said Brian Veale, principal of Birchview Elementary School in Ishpeming, Michigan. “Students pay closer attention in class and perform higher academically and socially. At Birchview, we are trying to teach our students about healthy lifestyles choices and how simple things like walking and healthy eating can help them be more successful in their everyday lives. Our Blue Cross funding helps build a healthier school community and we are very excited to kick off the school year with this walking event.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan supports community efforts that improve lives and promote healthy lifestyles. It invests in local communities by supporting organizations that share its commitment in leading Michigan to a healthier future.