Sheiko students learn about active living with Detroit Lions

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 22, 2017

 Jake Rudock discusses healthy living through leadership, studying, eating right and physical activity.

Jake Rudock discusses healthy living through leadership, studying, eating right and physical activity.

Photo by Donna Agusti

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Detroit Lions mascot Roary, with his oversized mane and paws, held large cardboard cutouts of a piece of pizza and a head of lettuce over his head March 13 at Sheiko Elementary School as students cheered him on. 

The furry mascot, decked out in Lions gear, encouraged students to pick out which item is the healthiest. The sea of students on the school’s gymnasium floor pointed and screamed, some telling Roary to take a bite out of the pizza, some the lettuce.

Earlier, Roary had tried to take a bite out of a cardboard boiled egg and block of cheese — he’d had his fill.

Through a statewide initiative, Building Healthy Communities, students had their fill learning about being leaders by eating healthy foods and studying hard. 

Building Healthy Communities is supported by a number of statewide organizations, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Fitness Foundation, the Michigan State University Extension and more. Over 230,000 students in over 500 Michigan schools have participated in the program.

Childhood obesity is a grave issue in Michigan, with 32.6 percent of kids ages 17 and younger being overweight or obese, according to the Washington-based National Institute for Health Care Management. That statistic ranks higher than the national average of 31.3 percent, according to a press release. 

Overweight or obese students are likely to experience less academic success than their non-overweight counterparts, according to the release.

The Building Healthy Communities initiative is encouraging students to be healthier by exercising for 60 minutes per day and eating right.

Shannon Carney-Oleksyk, manager of the Building Healthy Communities program, said the program is offered through an application process to all schools around the state. Currently, nearly 150 schools are getting healthier since starting the program last school year. She added that applications are currently open for schools for the 2017-18 school year.

“We are hoping schools that care about this … (it) might interest them and they (will) decide to apply (for) the program,” Carney-Oleksyk said, adding that Sheiko has received information on increasing physical activity for students and enhancing their exposure to healthy, nutrient-rich foods and beverages. 

“It’s very fun. As part of this program, this school received a large equipment package and training for their physical education teacher to implement a curriculum,”  she said.

Carney-Oleksyk said students received a large box full of gym-related equipment, including balls, hula hoops and more.

“The school’s equipment helps them all be active,” she said, adding that some school buildings are limited in the amount of equipment they have for kids. “Some kids are waiting in line; they are not able to be active the whole time during physical education.”

“Through our statewide partnerships, such as Building Healthy Communities, we are committed to continuing to make sustainable changes to ensure that school environments are supportive of healthy eating and physical activity,” Nick Lyon, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director, said in a press release. “Because we know that children who are exposed to healthy and supportive environments are more likely to live healthy lifestyles, partnerships such as these are vital to supporting new skills and knowledge through physical and nutrition education opportunities.”

Sheiko Principal Sonja James said the initiative falls in line with the school’s goals and leadership habits.

“It just falls in line with our goals,” James said, adding that when Detroit Lions player Jake Rudock spoke on getting proper rest and nutrients at the event, it resonated with the kids. “My hope is that the kids continue to think about that same message that is being sent to them daily. … This right here is equally as important, because it helps build a well-rounded person.”

Shyla Fulton, a fourth-grader, said in the hallway after the program that she wants to be the next Serena Williams.

“What I learned is you need a lot of rest. You need to set goals for yourself, and you need to get plenty of rest so when you set your goal, you could accomplish it,” Shyla said, adding that she plans to get that rest in order to go further in life.

Learn more at www.bcbsm.com/buildhealth.