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Algona, Iowa achieves certified Blue Zones Community status

Local Organizations and Community Leaders Implement a Wide Range of Environmental Improvements to Enhance the Well-Being of Residents, Achieve Community Transformation

July 16, 2014

Algona, Iowa – July 16, 2014 – Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) and Blue Zones, LLC, today announced that Algona, Iowa, has been named a certified Blue Zones Community®. Certification recognizes Algona’s community transformation through successful implementation of the Blue Zones Project®, a first-of-its-kind population health program that brings the world's best practices in food policy, built environment, purpose and social networking to participating cities.


The community is invited to celebrate its success in a certification celebration on Friday, July 25, 2014. The celebration will take place at the Carnegie Library lawn, 110 E. Nebraska St., with an announcement and showing of a video highlighting the Blue Zones Project in Algona taking place at 8:30 p.m. Directly following the announcement, Wellmark’s Movie Under the Stars presentation of “The Goonies” will begin as part of its 75th anniversary celebration.


Brought to Iowa through an innovative sponsorship by Wellmark in collaboration with Healthways and Blue Zones, the Blue Zones Project initiative encourages all Iowa communities to optimize their surroundings to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The Blue Zones Project is the centerpiece of the Healthiest State Initiative, designed to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016.


Community leaders, volunteers and organizations throughout Algona have been working to achieve certification status since October 2012, when the community was named a Blue Zones Project demonstration site. As a result of its efforts, Algona can celebrate the following outcomes:

  • Passing a Complete Streets policy that will guide the community’s future street projects and committing $300,000 to help pay for new sidewalks.
  • Raising $30,000 through a “Glo Run” 5k fundraiser coordinated by the Algona Student Leadership Class with all proceeds benefitting the Algona Recreational Trail.
  • 100 percent participation in a biometric screening program by employees of Algona Municipal Utilities and a 29 percent increase in employees’ healthy cholesterol levels from 2013 to 2014.
  • An increase of 37 percent in lunch sales at Daily Bread Bakery since the restaurant became a Blue Zones Restaurant®.
  • High participation in the Blue Zones Project Purpose Moai® with more than 120 Algona citizens completing the 10-week program.

"Having the framework of the Blue Zones Project has helped us move forward with plans for the Algona community at a faster pace and with greater assurance that community projects would lead our citizens to healthier choices," said Algona Mayor Lynn Kueck.


“In embracing the Blue Zones model the leaders and citizens of Algona have made a wise investment in their future,” said Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner. “Algona’s adoption of this environmental approach to improving well-being should dramatically increase their quality of life for many years to come.”


Algona achieved Blue Zones Community status after reaching the following key milestones, all of which are required improvement goals for Blue Zones Project demonstration communities seeking certification:

  • 50 percent of the top 20 identified worksites became designated Blue Zones Worksites®.
  • 25 percent of schools became designated Blue Zones Schools®.
  • 25 percent of restaurants became designated Blue Zones Restaurants.
  • 25 percent of grocery stores became designated Blue Zones Grocery Stores®.
  • 20 percent of citizens committed to the Blue Zones Project and completed at least one well-being improvement action.
  • Successfully completed the Blue Zones Community Policy® bundle.

“It is incredible to see what a community the size of Algona has done to make well-being a way of life,” said Laura Jackson, Wellmark executive vice president. “This significant achievement required tremendous commitment and effort from the entire community. We could not be more impressed with the example Algona has set for small communities in Iowa and across the country.”


“Algona has demonstrated its dedication to improved well-being and is well deserving of Blue Zones Community certification,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways president and chief executive officer. “The leadership in the community is focused on building a healthy community and the benefits can already be seen in projects like the Algona Recreational Trail fundraiser.” 


Fifteen Iowa communities are currently part of the Blue Zones Project and are positively influencing statewide Well-Being Index measurement outcomes to date. For more information, please visit


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 Blue Zones
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company's work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive – both published by National Geographic books.  In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%.  Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach.  For more information, visit


About Healthways

Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 68 million people on four continents. Learn more at

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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