Project Healthy Schools- University of Michigan Promoting Healthy Choices for Children

It feels good to be healthy.

Full stop.

The thrill of running down the court, swinging from the monkey bars, or walking through the woods with a friend cannot be reduced to mere statistics. As humans, we need movement to achieve our full potential, to increase our lifespan, and quite simply to have fun!

Of course, there is plenty of evidence to show that making healthy choices with nutrition and exercise does have a clear impact on our mental and physical well-being.

That common understanding was the impetus for the Project Healthy Schools program developed by the University of Michigan.

The program, which began in 2004, is one of only a few school-based programs that have demonstrated immediate and lasting improvements in participants’ health behavior and cardiovascular risk factors. More than 150 middle schools within 47 Michigan counties have implemented Project Healthy Schools; the retention rate is 75%.

University of Michigan News Website, author Greta Guest

Over a series of 10 lessons the students who participate in this program learn to make healthy choices in the following goal areas: eating more fruits and vegetables, choose less sugary foods and beverages, eat less fast foods and fatty foods, be active every day, spend less entertainment time in front of a screen.

But does it work?

Data collected from over 24,000 students suggest it does. Participants in the study have immediate and long lasting benefits in decreased total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, decreased blood pressure and an increase in physical activity.

Wendy Rauch, a teacher at a Project Healthy Schools site says, ” “It’s good for their mental health. It’s good for their physical well-being. They socialize with their friends. It’s a great program.”

Questions for Discussion

  1. Do you agree with the author of the article that “It feels good to be healthy.” Why or why not?
  2. What are some of the specific health outcomes listed in the article?
  3. What are the five goal areas of Project Healthy Schools?
  4. What additional questions do you have about Project Healthy Schools?

For more information on the program see the source article here.

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