Heartland Communities Embrace Blue Zones Project Well-Being Improvement Initiative
DURANT and SHAWNEE, Okla. – June 10, 2020 – Blue Zones Project® by Sharecare is gaining momentum in Oklahoma with success in Pottawatomie County and an exciting new launch in Durant. A partnership between Blue Zones, LLC, and Sharecare, Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to enable residents to live longer, happier lives with lower rates of chronic disease and a higher quality of life. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, communities are seeking proven approaches to influencing social determinants of health. The presence of the Blue Zones Project in these respective Oklahoma communities underscores the effectiveness of its unique approach to well-being improvement, especially in a region that traditionally ranks lower in well-being compared to other parts of the country.
According to recent data from Sharecare’s Community Well-Being Index (CWBI), the Blue Zones Project – initially launched in Pottawatomie County in 2017 – is yielding positive outcomes in that community, as it has remained consistent in well-being measurements from 2017 to 2019 while state and national scores declined during the same period. In fact, Pottawatomie County has outperformed the state of Oklahoma across four key health risk trends: poor nutrition, lack of exercise, lack of purpose and dissatisfaction with standard of living. When comparing CWBI results for Pottawatomie County to other Oklahoma communities with similar demographics – such as Owasso, Broken Arrow, Ardmore, Sand Springs, Tahlequah, McAlester, Ada and Tulsa – Pottawatomie County scores higher in every well-being element. Therefore, the Shawnee-based Avedis Foundation is demonstrating its long-term commitment to well-being improvement in Pottawatomie County by extending its partnership with Sharecare to continue Blue Zones Project locally through 2027.
“At the Avedis Foundation, our vision is to measurably improve the health, well-being and quality of life for the people of Pottawatomie County and its surrounding communities. In just three years, we’ve seen firsthand the effectiveness of the Blue Zones Project approach to improving well-being through enhancing the built environment, and we are pleased to extend our partnership with Blue Zones Project for an additional seven years,” said Avedis Foundation president and CEO Kathy Laster, Ph.D. “In addition, Avedis would like to welcome Durant as the second of what we hope will be many more Blue Zones Project communities in Oklahoma. We applaud the leaders of Durant for their foresight and vision in supporting an initiative that serves as a beacon of the transformative possibilities for Oklahomans.”
In Durant, the need for a comprehensive solution to address well-being deficiencies is evident in recent CWBI data, which reveals that three in five of its residents are overweight or obese; half do not exercise at appropriate levels; and two-thirds struggle with hope and purpose in their life outlook. Launched in conjunction with Texoma Health Foundation, First United Bank, the Choctaw Nation, the Massey Family Foundation, and other local partners, the Blue Zones Project in Durant will provide community members, schools, businesses, grocery stores, restaurants and other organizations with the opportunity to participate in customized well-being programs and offerings.
“The opportunities for well-being improvement in Durant are significant, and we look forward to making healthier choices easier in this community as we implement Blue Zones Project programs and methodologies,” said Greg Massey, CEO of First United Bank. “The impact the initiative has already made in Pottawatomie County confirms the effectiveness of this approach and will inspire those of us in Durant to improve our quality of life in a similar fashion.”
Durant joins 50 other Blue Zones Project communities across North America. Further, as the first Blue Zones Project community to launch during COVID-19, Durant will provide critical learnings for future Blue Zones Project communities – from addressing the longer-term impacts of the pandemic during the early discovery and foundation phases of development to creating more opportunities for communities to align virtual and in-person assessments and programs.
“In the wake of COVID-19, and with Oklahoma consistently placing in the bottom five of state well-being rankings, the challenges facing the state are real, and visionary leadership is required to effectively influence the trajectory of health. By partnering with Blue Zones Project, Pottawatomie County and Durant are demonstrating how small communities can become masters of their own population health destiny in states with otherwise low well-being,” said Michael Acker, senior vice president and general manager of Blue Zones Project by Sharecare. “A healthy community requires policies and programs that effectively impact the social determinants of health, and we look forward to collaborating with partners in Pottawatomie County and Durant as they work to create and sustain this supportive environment, while serving as examples for other communities in Oklahoma and beyond.”
Blue Zones Project works with its partners to closely align with the Blue Zones Power 9® Principles, the common characteristics of the world’s longest-lived people that encourage us to move naturally, eat wisely, connect with others, and cultivate the right outlook. For more information about Blue Zones Project and how to become involved, please visit www.bluezonesproject.com.
About Blue Zones Project
Blue Zones Project® is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. Established in 2010, Blue Zones Project is based on research by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five cultures of the world—or blue zones —with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. Blue Zones Project incorporates Buettner’s findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being. Currently, 51 communities across North America have joined Blue Zones Project, impacting more than 3.4 million citizens. The population health solution includes two Health Districts in California; 15 cities in Iowa; Albert Lea, Minnesota; the city of Fort Worth, Texas; Corry, Pennsylvania; Airdrie, Alberta; Brevard, North Carolina; and communities in Southwest Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Blue Zones Project is a partnership between Blue Zones, LLC, and Sharecare, Inc. For more information, visit bluezonesproject.com.
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