Beaumont and Dearborn Schools partner to secure nearly $500K to inspire kids and families to live healthy

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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Dearborn SHINES! focuses on eight Dearborn schools in pilot

Developing a lifelong habit can be a challenge, but Beaumont Health, Dearborn Public Schools and other community partners have committed to supporting the needs of the community through a new program, supported by a grant of almost $500,000.

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund selected the “Dearborn SHINES! for Healthy Kids” program as one of its awardees. With more than 61 percent of Dearborn area students identified as overweight or obese, the grant will benefit more than 4,600 students across eight schools in a comprehensive effort to help them get, and stay, healthy for life.

“Our research shows there is a need,” said Betty Priskorn, vice president of Community Health Outreach, Beaumont Health. “We now know that the creation of a society where the needs of the whole child are met through school and family interactions can help prevent obesity among some of the students with the highest needs.”

Students from these eight Dearborn schools will benefit from the grant program:

  • Salina Elementary
  • Salina Intermediate
  • Long Elementary
  • Nowlin Elementary
  • McCollugh-Unis Elementary-Middle
  • Lowrey Elementary and Middle
  • O.L. Smith Middle
  • Miller Elementary

Dearborn SHINES! is an acronym for School Health through Integrated Nutrition & Exercise Strategies. This18 month-long program will include:

  • new, edible school gardens
  • nutrition education curriculum tied to gardens
  • professional development for teachers
  • new physical education equipment including new technology
  • after-school clubs
  • monthly family health-related events

Nutrition education is based on Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) techniques. That’s where the University of Michigan-Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center comes in. They will create the garden designs based on input from the schools’ principals.

“Dearborn SHINES! is a holistic, interactive and hands-on approach to teaching children about healthy eating,” said Glenn Maleyko, superintendent, Dearborn Public Schools. “Rather than lecturing students to eat their fruits and vegetables, this program utilizes the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model to get its message across.”

Other partners include Dearborn Public Schools, Wayne State University, PTA, Muslim Girl Scouts and Muslim Boy Scouts and ACCESS – a local nonprofit focused on empowering the community to lead informed, productive and culturally sensitive lives.

Maleyko added, “This model fosters healthy environments at home and at school and builds family engagement into its programming, including family night events and parent committees.”

The Dearborn SHINES! program began May 1. Over the course of the next few weeks, Beaumont will begin collecting baseline health assessment survey from 800 students. Over the summer, the Muslim Boy and Girl Scouts will begin digging the gardens and teacher education will begin in August, followed by family oriented events in September.

"Healthy behaviors start with parents,” said Betty Priskorn, vice president of Community Health Outreach, Beaumont Health. “Dearborn SHINES! provides our children and their families with the resources and knowledge they need in order to adopt lifelong health habits.” 

Participants are learning gardening activities can be fun and educational. MHED and community health experts say in-school gardening offers first-hand exposure to the food kids eat.

By having direct contact with fruits and vegetables, students will be more open to eating them.

“Things are more meaningful when you build and grow them yourself,” said Priskorn. "It's a lot more interesting than a textbook."