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 youth through school-based education, environmental initiatives and engagement of the school community to support healthy choices. Health behaviors are influenced and improved by these five program goals:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Choose less sugary food and beverages
  • Eat less fast and fatty foods
  • Be active every day
  • Spend less time in front of a screen

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


Students, generally in the sixth grade or in their first year at middle school, participate in 10 hands-on lessons. 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.

Lesson titles are:

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

  • Healthy Habits Challenge where students track their healthy food and beverage choices and minutes of activity to see which classroom achieved the most healthy habits.
  • Participation in nation-wide 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
  • School wellness events, like cafeteria tastings, field days or 5K runs. (Watch a video)

Environmental Change

School Wellness 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. The State of Michigan's Healthy School Action Tools (HSAT) are used initially to assess the current school environment, set goals and create 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 taste tests
  • chef demonstrations
  • active fire drills

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