Six U.P. schools are part of statewide obesity-fighting program

ISHPEMING TOWNSHIP — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan says one out of every three children is the state is overweight or obese. Dozens of schools across the state are getting some help to address the problem.

Building Healthy Communities is a joint effort of the Michigan Department of Community Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and several other public and private partners. It’s designed to improve childhood wellness through school-based programming.

Aspen Ridge Elementary School in Ishpeming Township has been chosen to join the program this school year.

“They’re really going to help us do a variety of things throughout the school year,” Aspen Ridge Elementary principal Chris Marana said. “(The program will help us) focus on different nutritional concepts in the classroom and physical activity out at recess.”

Aspen Ridge will have a school-wide assembly on Friday, September 26th to kick things off. They’ve already received a big shipment of playground equipment that’ll be installed soon.

“We’ll have different lessons provided for the teachers and some professional development with that,” Marana said. “We have a person, a dietitian, who’ll be coming into the school doing classroom activities.”

Fifty-eight Michigan schools are part of Building Health Communities this year. Aspen Ridge is one of six in the Upper Peninsula to be included.

The other five are Father Marquette Elementary School and Father Marquette Middle School in Marquette, Soo Hill Elementary School in Escanaba, Three Lakes Academy in Curtis and Manistique Middle and High School in Manistique.

K.I. Sawyer Elementary School and Gwinn Middle School in Gwinn, and Rudyard Elementary School and Rudyard High School in Rudyard, are also receiving grants through the Building Health Communities program to supply low-income students with breakfast each day.