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Next Step in Blue Zones Project™ Announced
November 28, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa and NASHVILLE, Tenn. – November 23, 2011 – Eighty four communities across Iowa realize the importance of making their communities healthier. Each community submitted a Statement of Interest expressing a desire to be chosen as a Blue Zones® demonstration site. Blue Zones are areas in the world where people live longer, healthier lives.  Demonstration sites are communities in Iowa where Blue Zones principles will be applied with the assistance of national experts and will serve as models to other communities in Iowa.


All communities demonstrated readiness and passion around the Blue Zones principles.  Many have formed leadership teams and begun work to organize their communities.  Others even visited Albert Lea, MN—home of the first community where the Blue Zones principles were applied—to better understand the transformation their community can experience and the benefits of being a Blue Zones.  And finally many communities have indicated that whether chosen as a demonstration site or not – they will continue to pursue Blue Zones principles.


Of the 84 communities submitting statements of interest, 58 were invited to move forward through the full application process for this initial round.  These communities include:



Des Moines


Red Oak







Mason City

Sac City



Mount Pleasant




Mount Vernon



Fort Dodge


Sioux Center

Cedar Falls



Sioux City

Cedar Rapids

Greater Cedar Valley Alliance





Orange City

Spirit Lake

Charles City

Grundy Center


St. Ansgar




Storm Lake










Iowa City Area




Le Mars


Laura Jackson, Wellmark Executive Vice President said, “Narrowing the field was extremely difficult. We are inspired by the commitment shown statewide and encourage those communities not selected this round to continue to make environmental changes that improve the well-being of their families, friends and neighbors.  We sincerely hope that any community that is interested in transforming their environment will continue their journey – and our goal is to help them.”


Although Nevada was not selected to move forward, Nevada community leader Michelle Cassabaum remained optimistic, “We have formed a Power 9 Committee, developed a marketing plan, and begun to organize to help Nevada become a Blue Zones Community.  Not making it to the application phase will not stop our journey.  We will continue to move forward and are eager to provide assistance in designing a rural strategy for Blue Zones and taking advantage of other tools such as the Blue Zones Institute as they become available.”


The Blue Zones Institute™ will provide leadership training and tools to help leaders transform their community, work and home environments, using a self-directed approach to becoming a Blue Zones Community. The institute is scheduled to be operational in 2012. An online learning collaborative to showcase how communities have implemented Blue Zones principles as well as a suite of online tools are also being developed.


The 58 communities moving forward must submit their full application by January 4, 2012. Upon assessment of these applications, eight to ten finalist communities will be selected to host site visits February 27- March 16, 2012. This process will culminate with the selection of the first round of demonstration sites in May 2012.


About Wellmark

Wellmark, Inc. ( does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.


About Healthways

Healthways is the leading provider of specialized, comprehensive solutions to help millions of people maintain or improve their health and well-being and, as a result, reduce overall costs. Healthways’ solutions are designed to help healthy individuals stay healthy, mitigate or eliminate lifestyle risk factors that can lead to disease and optimize care for those with chronic illness. Our proven, evidence-based programs provide highly specific and personalized interventions for each individual in a population, irrespective of age or health status, and are delivered to consumers by phone, mail, internet and face-to-face interactions, both domestically and internationally. Healthways also provides a national, fully accredited complementary and alternative Health Provider Network and a national Fitness Center Network, offering convenient access to individuals who seek health services outside of, and in conjunction with, the traditional healthcare system.  For more information, please visit

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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