Beaver Dam Middle School Designated As 9th Blue Zones Project Approved School

by Jim Dittmann
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By: Leslie Covell Hershberger – Community Program Manager – Blue Zones Project® — Dodge County

During their school picnic, students, staff, and faculty gathered to celebrate Beaver Dam Middle School being recognized as the newest Blue Zones Project ApprovedTMschool in Dodge County. This designation reflects the school’s commitment toteaching kids healthier habits they can carry with them for a lifetime.

Teacher Betsy Ramsdale took the lead in the initiative. “I appreciate the support from all of the administration to implement the decisions only they could make to encourage these healthier policies.”

Beaver Dam Middle School’s Wellness Team has been focused on serving the needs of the students through healthy eating habits, movement, and mindfulness. Administration, teachers, parents, and fellow students have made the commitment to wellness by incorporating many new practices into their daily routines.

At Beaver Dam Middle School, there are clear changes in the cafeteria. Vending machines have been removed as have unhealthy a la carte menu items. All food and beverage items follow USDA Smart Snack Guidelines.

Nutrition education is integrated into lesson plans outside of just health class. Offered in both Fall and Spring, the after-school program “Kids in the Kitchen” is one example.  It focuses not only on cooking skills, but also on nutrition.

Incorporating physical activity into daily lesson plans to help student stay focused and energized is demonstrated in a variety of classes. In Science, the instructor utilizes a “running lab” lesson and in 6thgrade music, the bucket drumming unit involves coordinated body movements. Six different classes utilize Go Noodle or alternative brain breaks.

Teachers are discouraged from using food or beverages as rewards and do not take away opportunities for physical activities as discipline. Beaver Dam Middle School has also eliminated food fundraising efforts and held their first 3 on 3 basketball tournament for AHA this year.

“I’m just really proud about meeting the criteria needed to complete the pledge and of the staff for the work they did to achieve this designation. A special thank you to Betsy Ramsdale who organized staff in accomplishing this,” said Principal Christine Ziemann.

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthier choices easier by encouraging simple changes to environment, policy, and social networks. The initiative was brought to Dodge County through sponsorship by Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC. Dodge County is the first Blue Zones Project demonstration site in the state.

For details about becoming a Blue Zones Project Approved organization or for general information about Blue Zones Project, Dodge County, call 920-342-2479,or

For information about Beaver Dam Middle School, part of the Beaver Dam Unified School District, call 920-885-7365.

About Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, Inc.

Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, Inc. is an independent, non-profit healthcare organization whose mission is to deliver excellence across a continuum of services to patients in the region of Dodge, Columbia and Fond du Lac counties, Wisconsin. BDCH offers a comprehensive continuum of services to people of all ages, including primary and specialty care, obstetric and inpatient acute care, outpatient surgery and oncology services, emergency services, rehabilitation, independent and assisted living, home care, hospice, long-term care, wound care, urology, orthopedics and sports medicine, interventional radiology, occupational health, pain management, breast health services and women’s health, community education, sleep medicine, and day care for children. For more information, visit

About Marshfield Clinic Health System

Marshfield Clinic Health System is a $2.4 billion integrated health system serving Wisconsin with about 10,000 employees including over 1,200 providers comprising 86 specialties, health plan, and research and education programs. Primary operations include Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield Medical Center hospitals in Marshfield, Eau Claire, Neillsville, Rice Lake and Ladysmith, Marshfield Children’s Hospital, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, Security Health Plan and Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation.

About Blue Zones Project
Blue Zones Project®is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. Established in 2010, Blue Zones Project is inspired by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five regions of the world—or blue zones—with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. Blue Zones Project incorporates Buettner’s findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being. Currently, 48 communities in 11 states have joined Blue Zones Project, impacting more than 3.4 million Americans nationwide. The movement includes three beach cities in California; 15 cities in Iowa; Albert Lea, Minnesota; the city of Fort Worth; and communities in Southwest Florida, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Blue Zones Project is an exclusive partnership between Blue Zones, LLC, and Sharecare, Inc. For more information, visit

About Sharecare
Sharecare is the digital health company that helps people manage all their health in one place. The Sharecare platform provides each person – no matter where they are in their health journey – with a comprehensive and personalized health profile, where they can dynamically and easily connect to the information, evidence-based programs, and health professionals they need to live their healthiest, happiest, and most productive life. With award-winning and innovative frictionless technologies, scientifically validated clinical protocols, and best-in-class coaching tools, Sharecare helps providers, employers, and health plans effectively scale outcomes-based health and wellness solutions across their entire populations. To learn more, visit

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