Blue Zones Project, a nationally renowned well-being improvement initiative, is helping people work together to turn the settings where they spend most of their time into places that make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Why? Because communities where people can easily walk and bike outdoors, find healthy food options, live a more purposeful life, and deepen connections with one another contribute to longer lives with lower incidence of chronic disease and social isolation.

Blue Zones Project is working with 42 communities across nine states, helping them become better places for people to live, work, learn, and play.

In 2015, Cambia Health Foundation brought Blue Zones Project to Oregon in support of the Oregon Healthiest State initiative.

The first Blue Zones Project Demonstration Community, Klamath Falls, launched soon thereafter.

This spring, after a competitive application process, the Umpqua region became one of three new Oregon Blue Zones Project Demonstration Communities, joining an inspiring statewide, as well as national well-being movement.

Motivated by Douglas County’s consistent ranking among the least healthy counties in Oregon, the Douglas Education Service District led the application process to be considered for the Blue Zones Project Demonstration Community opportunity.

In collaboration with six other local organizations, the DESD framed the application on the idea that the Blue Zones Project approach would amplify the work of many existing efforts, help break down barriers between them, and bring experts and programmatic resources to the area.

Now, as a newly minted Blue Zones Project Demonstration Community, that’s the vision driving early information gathering and strategic planning activities.

Led by local staff, community leaders, and residents, the three-year initiative will draw upon more than 200 evidence-based practices to help individuals as well as organizations such as schools, worksites, grocery stores, restaurants and other places make well-being improvement the default.

There are many exciting and important milestones ahead, the biggest and most visible of which will be a community-wide kickoff event. It will be free and open to the public and will take place on Monday, Dec. 11, at Umpqua Community College.

The event will celebrate the Umpqua region, offer information about what living in a Blue Zones Project Demonstration Community looks like, and showcase easy and inspiring practices for living longer, better.

People can learn more about this event and the initiative by visiting the Facebook page for “Blue Zones Project – Umpqua.”

Once there, people can participate in polls to identify project priorities, get information on upcoming events, share their own well-being experiences, and stay up to date on the progress of the initiative.

To sign up to receive regular email updates, visit Oregon.bluezonesproject.com.

For information, contact the Blue Zones Project-Umpqua at bluezonesprojectumpqua@sharecare.com.

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Reporter

Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

(1) comment

Mogie

"ed by local staff, community leaders, and residents, the three-year initiative will draw upon more than 200 evidence-based practices to help individuals as well as organizations such as schools, worksites, grocery stores, restaurants and other places make well-being improvement the default." What does "improvement the default" mean? I doubt DB answers this. :(

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