DES MOINES, Iowa and NASHVILLE, Tenn. – January 10, 2012 – Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® and Healthways (Nasdaq: HWAY) announced that 54 communities have submitted an application to be among the first demonstration sites for the Blue Zones Project™, a cornerstone of the Healthiest State Initiative. 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.
Fifty-eight communities were invited to complete applications and of those 58 communities, 54 communities submitted an application based on a previously submitted Statement of Interest indicating its desire to become a Blue Zones Project demonstration site, which represents a tremendous response. These communities were chosen based on a mixture of criteria, including civic structure and engagement and how many residents live and work within the community. Collectively, the 54 communities represent the geographic and demographic diversity of Iowa.
Laura Jackson, Wellmark Executive Vice President said, “It’s thrilling to see how Iowa communities and citizens have embraced the Blue Zones Project since it kicked off in September. This includes communities that have submitted an Application and those that continue on their own journey to becoming a Blue Zones Community. It’s quite impressive that so many Iowans are committed to improving their lives.”
The 54 communities who submitted an application are:
Greater Cedar Valley
Iowa City Area
“The Blue Zones Project provides a unique opportunity to showcase Spencer’s efforts to improve our well-being,” said Alison Simpson, Coordinator, Spencer Safe Routes to School. “Our entire community has come together to support this initiative because we know that improved well-being leads to lower health care costs, higher productivity and increased economic viability, and we fully intend to take 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 is also being developed.
Upon assessment of the applications, up to ten finalist communities will be announced on February 10, 2012. These selected communities will host site visits from February 27- March 16, 2012. This process will culminate with the selection of the demonstration sites in May 2012.
“Regardless of whether their communities are selected as Blue Zones Project demonstration sites, we encourage all Iowans to continue their journey to improve their well-being,” said Mary Lawyer, Healthways state director of the Blue Zones Project. “Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® data reveals a significant opportunity in Iowa for improvement, particularly among healthy behaviors and work environments, and we want to empower all Iowans with the tools they will need to achieve meaningful change.”
Wellmark, Inc. (www.wellmark.com) 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.
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 www.healthways.com.