Health & Wellness Grants for Local Schools

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX)-- News 10's Lora Painter spoke with teachers and students at Glencairn Elementary School in East Lansing-- one of several local schools getting special funding-- to find out how they are using new tools to boost healthy choices on campus.

Teachers at Glencairn said keeping students attention is not always easy, so taking so-called "brain breaks" helps students refresh and get ready to learn. The school has recieved new equipment-- thanks to the "Step up for Wellness" program-- that help teachers do just that.

Katrina Nordquist, kindergarten teacher at Glencairn, said, "When we come back in from recess we need time to come back and relax and calm ourselves down."

80 schools across Michigan participate in the program. At least six of them are in Mid-Michigan. The program gives schools different resources to help students make healthier lifestyle choices. Resources can include balls, jump ropes, game ideas, and kitchen appliances to make healthy food items and menus. There are many options depending on what schools decide they need. The program is supported by several statewide organizations, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, at no cost to schools.

Lorraine Ware, principal at Glencairn, said, "It helps us look at the education of children in a more broad perspective, other than just the academics."

There are many components to the "Step up for Wellness" grant. Each school can decide each year which components they want to participate in. This is Glencairn's second year. They also applied for the "healthy smoothies" portion of it where they received a new big blender and the kids did taste tests.

Ware said, "[It's] encouraging them to try new things, and try different equipment and try jump roping and try hula hooping, And have them being active during different parts of the day, I think, really helps them concentrate."

All public, charter and private nonprofit schools in the state are eligible to apply for the program. Applications must be submitted online at .

Building Healthy Communities has since been embraced by more than 500 schools across the state, and has helped over 230,000 students develop better habits and live healthier lives. Building Healthy Communities supports Blue Cross's ongoing commitment to children's health and its #MIKidsCan campaign - an initiative focused on encouraging kids to adopt healthy habits early in life that are more likely to be carried into adulthood. Over the last 11 years, Blue Cross has given more than $6.5 million in support of kids' health and wellness initiatives across the state, reaching more than 230,000 children. For more information on Blue Cross's ongoing efforts to help improve childhood health, visit or follow #MIKidsCan on Twitter.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.5 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. For more company information, visit and