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Project Healthy Schools (PHS) has been encouraging healthy habits in youth through education, environmental change and measurement since 2004 and has grown into a multifaceted program. Our program is currently in use in 40 schools throughout Michigan. PHS stands out from similar programs because of its evaluation results, significant community partnerships, and strong team of experts. In addition, the hands-on lessons and socio-ecological model, which engages the entire school community in this effort, make it a very effective, sustainable approach to impacting children’s health.
Studies have clearly shown that students who eat healthier and get more physical activity perform better in the classroom. Additionally, they are establishing behaviors now that may last their lifetime. PHS has five easy to remember goals that promote healthier food choices and increased physical activity, the basics of a healthy lifestyle.
The goals are:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Choose less sugary foods and beverages
- Eat less fast and fatty foods
- Spend less mindless time in front of a screen
- Be active every day
PHS started as a pilot program in one Ann Arbor middle school in the 2004–2005 school year. Since 2004, the program has been implemented in over 40 schools in Michigan. For a complete list of participating schools see the Schools List.
Over 24,600 sixth graders have participated in PHS as of spring, 2014.
The research program is designed to study the project’s effects on lifestyle, markers of cardiovascular risk, and obesity. It includes students from many PHS schools, with more than 10,800 students participating over the last 10 years. Approximately 600 Ann Arbor and approximately 240 Ypsilanti students have participated in long term follow up, making it possible to evaluate the program’s long term effectiveness three years after intervention. Results indicate that the program is beneficial, and it has a lasting impact.