Fort Worth Blue Zones Project plans community meetings

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Community meetings will begin this month to provide information, gather input and spawn discussion about implementing the Blue Zones Project in Fort Worth.

“It’s a city-wide well-being improvement initiative,” said Julie Wilson, the project’s vice president. She said the goal is “to encourage the healthy choice to become the easy choice.”

Wilson, a former Chesapeake executive, said the project was spurred by the work of National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner, who wrote the New York Times best seller “The Blue Zones– Lessons for Living Longer From the People who have Lived the Longest.”

“Well-being is being defined certainly as longevity but also as quality of life and good health in life too,” she said. “A large component of what we do is try to get people to move naturally.”

According to brochures put out by Healthways, citizens can potentially increase their lifespan 12 years by incorporating nine simple practices into their existing routines.

People in areas such as Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California and Sardinia, Italy are living an entire century, according to the brochure, and at an astonishing rate.

Fort Worth will be the first southern city to embrace the project, but Wilson said she expects other Texas cities will soon be clamoring for it.

Staff members plan to recruit volunteers to help further the initiative, raise awareness and possibly change some policies, Wilson said. For now, the project is just ramping up, and the first signs of change will be the upcoming one and a half hour long meetings that will involve civic leaders as well as others who are interested. The hope is for neighborhoods, workplaces, restaurants, stores, schools and churches to embrace the project.

Among others, personal daily practices from the Blue Zones Power 9 pyramid include moving naturally, knowing one’s purpose and having a glass of red wine. However, to be designated a Blue Zone community, school, restaurant, grocery store or worksite, certain policies and pledge actions would need to be in place.

Wilson said the community meetings will provide information about specific guidelines.

“It has been enthusiastically embraced by the mayor who has a healthy city initiative,” she said.

Wilson and Fit Worth’s Leslie Casey recently joined Price for a YouTube video discussing healthy activity in Fort Worth.

Victoria Puente, community relations coordinator for the Blue Zones Project Fort Worth, said besides the community outreach meetings, a plan of action is also being developed which will be revealed at the project’s official launch in January 2015.

“I think it will be wonderful for the city,” she said. “It is going to support the existing initiatives that are already in place.

To learn more about the Blue Zones Project, visit texas.bluezonesproject.com.

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