Happy, Healthy, Strong: The Northwest Michigan Strong Project

Awesome news! Thanks to support from the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, Norte is ready to grow outside Traverse City. After four years of experimenting, piloting and learning from many, many mistakes, we’re excited to bring our vision of happy, healthy, ready to learn kids to other northwest Michigan communities. By partnering with local champions, The Northwest Michigan Project aims to help weave a culture of health into the fabric of small towns in the 5 county area so that they can be their best – their healthiest.

Our Vision

Kids learning to move and be physically active as part of ordinary life – like going to school or the park or the library or the beach – and then inspiring their parents, teachers, principals, neighbors to do the same is, in our opinion, a powerful means to sustainable well-living and community healthfulness.

Independent, happy, confident, ready to learn youth are empowered to be guardians of their health, develop lifelong habits to move more and sit less and be leaders in their neighborhood.

What steps can we take to get kids off the couch, off their screen and outside? How can we reduce childhood obesity, insane car lines at schools, traffic congestion, air pollution and social isolation? Organized sports and recreation are great but Norte believes that embedding walking and biking into our daily routine, is a significant part of the answer.

Our Work

Norte’s youth-centered, active transportation-focused, neighborhood-based model combines four interconnected initiatives as a complete package to engage, empower and excite young people and keep them moving forward:

  • Safe Routes to School: Encouragement and educational programs empowering students to actively get themselves to school
  • Pro Walk/Pro Bike Advocacy: Building stronger, better connected and more walk/bike friendly communities
  • Youth mountain bike club: Developing confidence, independence and grit by way of pedal powered adventures in our northern Michigan forests
  • Youth leadership councilAssisting self-directed young people speak up, stand up, get involved and do good in their community

Our Plan

Norte has invested significant time and energy in developing this inclusive four initiative model that has shown it can get 1,000 young people moving year round in a small northwestern Michigan town. By sharing knowledge, tools and experiences of what works well and what doesn’t, Norte will be a resource and guide to help communities empower their young people to be active for life.

Change is local. Microlocal even. We have developed a grassroots method that recruits, trains and empowers neighborhood champions to take charge and be that change. Norte has had much success in the past four years but there is nothing that we’ve done here in Traverse City that can’t be replicated in other communities.

The Northwest Michigan Strong Project

Norte plans to “adopt” 1-2 northwest Michigan communities in the fall of 2018 for a year long project. We’re looking for passionate, committed, awesome people in the 5 county area to form a team and bring the Northwest Michigan Strong Project to their town. Teams consist of 4-5 members who could be parents, teachers, school administration, community members and stakeholders, representatives of like-minded organizations or business owners. Team members will volunteer their time, energy, passion and knowledge of their community, and Norte will provide administrative support, consulting, training, technical assistance and how-to documents for Safe Routes To School, youth mountain bike, pro walk/pro bike and youth leadership programs and events.

Get involved

Interested? Learn more by completing this form:



Questions? Get at us.