Rivals Challenge raises $1,600 for Project Healthy Schools

July 14, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees
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From left: Nate Saulter, program assistant for PHS; LaVaughn Palma-Davis, senior director of health and well-being services; Julie Nelson, communications and special projects facilitator for PHS; Jean DuRussel-Weston, R.N., M.P.H., manager of PHS; Ben Ransier, curriculum and training coordinator for PHS; and Robert Winfield, M. D., U-M chief health officer and executive director of University Health Service.

The University of Michigan may not have come out victorious over Ohio State in the first-ever Rivals Challenge, but U-M participants were successful in logging millions of exercise minutes and raising $1,600 for Project Healthy Schools (PHS).

PHS was presented with a check and the winning university was announced on July 8 at a recognition reception for participants at the Michigan League. U-M averaged 36 daily minutes per participant and Ohio State averages 42 daily minutes per participant.

“We are grateful to the many Rivals Challenge participants who chose to support Project Healthy Schools,” says Kim Eagle, M.D., co-founder of Project Healthy Schools and director of U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center. “By supporting Project Healthy Schools, they are making a difference in the current and future health of Michigan’s youth.”

PHS is a U-M and community collaboration teaching middle-school students how to make healthy choices and creating school environments where students can practice those choices until they become habits. The program, which started in Ann Arbor middle schools in 2004, is currently in more than 60 middle schools across the state. Recent research published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that not only did students’ cardiovascular risk factors improve after participating in the program, but the benefits were sustained over four years.

Carole Durgy, the PHS wellness coordinator for Ann Arbor schools says, “PHS provides students with hands-on experiences that shape their decisions on how to live healthier lives now and into adulthood. In the Ann Arbor middle schools, in addition to learning about the importance of nutrition and physical activity, students participate in field days, 5Ks, taste testing in the cafeteria, healthy school stores, and hear daily health announcements.”

According to PHS Curriculum and Training Coordinator Ben Ransier, PHS also affects students’ families. “After a lesson, a student went home and read the food labels and realized how much hidden sugar is in the food his family eats,” Ransier said. “Now when they grocery shop they won’t purchase a cereal if it has more than 10 grams of sugar per serving.”

PHS is primarily a grant and donor-funded program, with additional support from the health system. It’s a great example of what can be accomplished when the university and the community combine forces to tackle one of the nation’s most pressing health problems. For more information, visit PHS online.

For those looking for the next U-M physical activity challenge, registration for MHealthy’s Active U Autumn program opens Aug. 30. The eight-week program begins Sept. 20 and is open to all employees, students, retirees, employee spouses and other qualified adults. More information will be available in early August at mhealthy.umich.edu/autumn.

Website: http://www.projecthealthyschools.org/