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Small communities submit strong applications to Blue Zones Project™
April 4, 2012


Today, Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® announced the 10 small Iowa communities selected to receive site visits. They will move forward on the path to transform their communities using Blue Zones® principles, as published by Dan Buettner in his best-selling book, Blue Zones: Lessons For Living Longer From The People Who’ve Lived The Longest.


This announcement comes on the heels of February’s announcement where Wellmark committed to expand beyond the original 10 Blue Zones Project™ demonstration sites (population greater than 10,000) by developing alternate opportunities for small communities (population less than 10,000) to improve their health and well-being.  During the review process two things became clear: 1) there were a large number of quality applications; and 2) there were clear differences among the small and large communities.  These two elements led to Wellmark’s decision. 


The 10 communities, with populations less than 10,000, selected for initial visits are:




Red Oak


Spirit Lake


St. Ansgar




The series of small community visits will allow the Wellmark team to learn more about the community’s leadership and commitment. Community leaders will have the opportunity to learn more about the resources available, including Blue Zones principles and how to leverage the tools available to them. The visits are anticipated to occur in the summer of 2012.   


Wellmark Executive Vice President Laura Jackson said the smaller community strategy multiplies the opportunities to improve health and well being across Iowa. She said, “Wellmark supports any motivated Iowa community with the ultimate goal being to transform every Iowa community into a healthier place.” 


All Iowa communities now have resources available to help them adopt Blue Zones principles. The new online suite of tools can soon be found at In addition, after consulting with Iowa communities, there are plans to bring together Iowans to identify local experts and create a forum for sharing best practices.

Contact Wellmark Media Relations

Traci McBee
Phone: 515-376-4338


Teresa Roof
Phone: 515-376-5869


1331 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309-2901

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