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Blue Zones seek partners in Shawnee

In April, CPN Vice-Chairman Linda Capps wrote about her work with an initiative in Pottawatomie County that seeks to promote healthier lifestyle and infrastructure in the communities that many CPN members and employees live in. The following is a submission on what the project is and how it will work to enhance the lives of the people in CPN’s neighborhood.

How the Blue Zones Project Works

Inspired by the world’s longest-lived populations, Blue Zones Project® is all about making healthy choices easier right here in Pottawatomie County. Dan Buettner discovered five areas around the world where people lived longer and healthier lives, places he called Blue Zones®. He noted nine common principles shared by these areas, The Power9®, and wrote about his findings for National Geographic and in his books, The Blue Zones and The Blue Zones Solution. But, his insights didn’t end there. The Blue Zones Project incorporates insights from the Blue Zones to reverse engineer longevity in communities throughout the United States. Pottawatomie County has been selected as one of the newest Blue Zones Project demonstration communities thanks to a sponsorship by the Avedis Foundation.

Blue Zones Project takes a unique approach by focusing on what we call the Life Radius, impacting places you learn, work, play, and pray. Individuals spend most of their time within 5 miles of where they live and where they work, their life radius. If the places within your life radius support healthy habits, you are more likely to succeed in maintaining your own well-being improvement choices. Check out some of the areas communities are coming together to support well-being in one another.

People

Blue Zones Project provides opportunities for individuals to connect with one another. Borrowing an idea from the Okinawan culture, people are encouraged to form “Moais,” groups that meet for a common purpose. Blue Zones Project facilitates connections through the formation of Walking Moais, Potluck Moais, and Purpose Moais. At Moai launch events, groups of 5-8 people are formed and these groups commit to meeting on a regularly for ten weeks. After ten weeks, many Moai participants find that they have gained valuable friendships and continue to meet.

Places

The places outside of our own home that we spend most of our time have a dramatic impact on our well-being. Blue Zones Project works with schools, worksites, restaurants, grocery stores, civic organizations, and faith-based communities to make the health choice the easy choice. These places select evidence-based practices that improve well-being in order to become Blue Zones Project Approved™. This status signals to individuals which places within their life radius support the healthy choices they have made.

Policy

Blue Zones Project works closely with community policy makers to adopt policies that are right for the individual communities to help the citizens and visitors alike in improved well-being. Experts in the fields of built environment, alcohol and tobacco, and food policy work with communities to highlight the assets and discover opportunities for improvement. An example of policy improvements include adopting a complete streets policy to improve accessibility for not only vehicles but also for pedestrians and bicycles as well.

You can learn more about Blue Zones Project Pottawatomie County by visiting pottawatomie.bluezonesproject.com. You can also contact Pottawatomie County’s local Blue Zones Project team by e-mailing pottawatomiecounty@healthways.com or follow us on Facebook at Blue Zones Project Pottawatomie County.