How PHS Works

Our Mission statement sums up how Project Healthy Schools works:

The University of Michigan’s Project Healthy Schools, in collaboration with community partners, strives to improve the present and future health of middle school students through school-based education and environmental initiatives. Health behaviors are influenced and improved by these five program goals:

  • 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

Read on to learn about our collaborative partnerships and school-based educational and environmental initiatives to will see how the program goals are central to everything we do.

Community – University Collaborative

Project Healthy Schools is proud to partner with the University of Michigan Health System, schools, community organizations, partner programs and donors. The chart below shows the partners.

View this chart for our complete list of partners (pdf).


Students, generally in their first year at middle school, participate in 10 hands-on activities. Step by step instructions, goals, props, required preparation, and additional enrichment activities are all included in the written lesson plans. Lessons provide learning experiences and tips on how students can put the five PHS key areas or goals into practice in their daily lives.

Activity titles are:

  • Healthy Habits
  • I Am From
  • MyPlate! My Choice! (pdf)
  • Sugar Shock
  • Get the Beat!
  • Rainbow of Color (pdf)
  • Jump Start Your Day
  • Assessing Advertising
  • Facts on Fat
  • Wellness Warriors Take Action

Additionally, throughout the year students participate in a variety of events to enable them to live out the goals. These include:

  • Healthy Habits Competition where students track their healthy food and beverage choices and minutes of activity to see which classroom is healthiest
  • Participation in international events, like Walk to School Day and All Children Exercising Simultaneously (ACES) to encourage and provide a fun way to work in more physical activity
  • Active year-end events, like field days or 5K runs (Watch a video)

Environmental Change

School Health Teams are key to evaluating the school environment and identifying opportunities for improvement. Teams may include administrators, a health teacher, a PE teacher, a counselor, a food service person, students, parents or other interested community members and a PHS representative. After initial assessment of the current school environment, the team sets goals and creates an action plan. Generally teams meet monthly for an hour to discuss action steps and plan upcoming events. Examples of some activities that have been implemented after the initial assessment include:

  • healthy snack recipe contests and bake offs
  • a beach volleyball tournament
  • weekly walks during homeroom time
  • changes in fundraisers or classroom rewards
  • cafeteria entree changes, such as:
    • focus on nutrient rich foods
    • serve only 1% milk
    • fresh, cut-up fruit daily
    • incorporate more whole grain products
    • post menus so students have time to make healthier choices

Community partners, educational activities and environmental changes are all important components of PHS.