The first four Blue Zones Project demonstration sites, with populations of 10,000 or greater, recently held kickoff rallies.
Cedar Falls, Mason City, Spencer and Waterloo, all introduced in May as the first four demonstration sites, held kickoff events Nov. 26-30 to highlight the opportunities available to all residents to transform their well-being through engagement in the Project.
Demonstration sites are those selected communities that will receive assistance from experts to develop and implement a blueprint for making permanent environmental, social, and policy changes to help transition people into healthier behaviors that can lead to longer, happier lives.
Featured speakers included Dan Buettner, international explorer for National Geographic and best-selling author of Blue Zones, Dan Burden, a national expert on livable and sustainable communities, and local representatives.
Entertainment and activities were provided as the rallies were the first opportunity for residents to see all the activities the Blue Zones Project has to offer.
"We have a real opportunity in these demonstration communities to be a model for increasing well-being and happiness in Iowa and in the nation," said Buettner. "These events will be a celebration of well-being and a launching pad for Blue Zones Project activities."
"A tremendous amount of work by community leaders and volunteers has gone into setting priorities for next steps," said Laura Jackson, executive vice president, Health Care Strategy & Policy. "This is a great time to celebrate and show all communities in Iowa that improving well-being is possible, and living longer, better lives is an opportunity available to us all."
Next steps for these four Iowa communities are to begin implementing their Blueprints, which are their strategies to become a Blue Zones Community in the next 18-36 months.
As he brushes back tears, Bob Fagen, Spencer city manager, shares his personal story at the recent Spencer Blue Zones Project&trade kick off event that triggered a standing ovation from the 400 in attendance.