Bronson Battle Creek Receives State Honor for Improving Community Health

Published on June 30, 2016

Bronson Battle Creek Receives State Honor for Improving Community Health

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Bronson Battle Creek was recognized today by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) as a 2016 Ludwig Community Benefit Award recipient. MHA presents this award annually to select healthcare organizations that have aided their communities in extraordinary ways to improve health and well-being. Bronson Battle Creek was honored for the community impact of Operation Fit ─ a unique school-based program created to reduce childhood obesity in Calhoun County.Operation Fit Organizers

“Through a community health needs assessment in 2013, we identified the need for a program that focuses on children’s health and fitness. Following extensive community engagement, we developed Operation Fit in collaboration with the Battle Creek Community Foundation and the Regional Health Alliance,” says Mark Crawford, vice president of community health services at Bronson Battle Creek. “The program is designed to increase the physical activity of students and improve student nutrition and the lunchroom environment. It also aims to support policy change, education and communication among teachers and parents.”

Operation Fit has dozens of program components incorporated throughout the school day. These elements include morning movement, breakfast in the classroom, structured recess, brain breaks and accessible water stations. Teachers are also equipped with activity toolkits to educate their students on nutrition and healthy behaviors. The program also has a significant parent/volunteer component, encourages the work of wellness committees for both teachers and students, and even provides healthy cooking demonstrations for staff, students and families. 

“Results from Operation Fit’s pilot year are significant,” says Crawford. “With data from two elementary schools, we’ve seen an improvement in physical testing, eating behaviors and exercise habits. Disciplinary issues in school have drastically reduced and parents reported their child’s health and classroom performance to have improved over the year. We are now working to expand the program to additional schools.”

Each winner of the Ludwig Community Benefit Award receives $3,000 from the MHA Health Foundation to assist with community health improvement initiatives. It will be used to supplement the current funding for Operation Fit provided by the three community partners.

The Ludwig Community Benefit Award has additional meaning for members of the Bronson Healthcare system.  It was named after Patric E. Ludwig, former MHA President and, subsequently, president of Bronson Healthcare from 1985 until his death in 1996. The award is a tribute to the legacy of leadership and community stewardship fostered by Ludwig.  MHA established the award in 2004 to support innovative community-based health improvement programs led by Michigan hospitals.

Pictured at top of page: From Bronson Battle Creek: Mark Crawford, vice president of community health services, and John Fear, director of food and nutrition services. From Battle Creek Community Foundation: Angela Myers, community initiatives officer, Jessica Rauch, program associate, and Danni Heddinger, Operation Fit coordinator.