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Mendocino County Joins Growing Movement to Become a Blue Zones Project Community

The following press release was issued by the Blue Zones Project:

Lake Emily, Willits, CA [Photograph provided by Blue Zones Project]

Today Adventist Health and Blue Zones LLC announced the launch of Blue Zones Project to help residents of Mendocino County live longer, better lives. 

Blue Zones Project Mendocino County joins the recently launched Blue Zones Project® in Upper Napa Valley as Northern California areas where Adventist Health is introducing this unique community-driven well-being improvement initiative as part of its commitment to the populations it serves. Mendocino County is supported by three Adventist Health campuses: Howard Memorial in Willits; Mendocino Coast in Fort Bragg; and Ukiah Valley in Ukiah, all of which will work in close collaboration with other local stakeholders to promote healthy choices and habits in the region.

Based on research on the world’s longest-lived communities by National Geographic Fellow and best-selling author Dan Buettner, Blue Zones Project is the leading nationwide well-being improvement initiative. Blue Zones Project is a first-of-its-kind population health initiative that helps entire communities get healthier by optimizing public policy, social connections and the places and spaces where people spend the most time so that healthy choices are easy and accessible. Participating communities have seen double-digit drops in obesity and smoking rates, economic investment in downtown corridors, grant funding awards to support policies and programs aimed at improving health equity and measurable savings in healthcare costs.

“Our mission at Adventist Health to live God’s love is part of our calling to care for communities. In many ways, the measures and sustainable practices of Blue Zones Project align closely with this responsibility to improve well-being for our community and our team,” said Judson Howe, President for Adventist Health in Mendocino County. “The decision to introduce Blue Zones Project to Mendocino County comes at a particularly critical time in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we see this initiative as an essential step in helping all community members recover in environments that support their health and sense of connection.”

In May 2021, Blue Zones Project and Adventist Health initiated a site assessment of Mendocino County, meeting with community leaders from across the county to begin to understand readiness for and scope of a Blue Zones Project in Mendocino County. The assessment covered areas that Blue Zones Projects engage, including the built environment, food and tobacco policy, worksites, schools, faith-based organizations and civic and non-profit groups. The assessment team was impressed with the broad level of support demonstrated across all sectors, and the commitment of community leaders, local organizations and volunteers to bring Blue Zones Project to Mendocino County.

Never before in our lifetimes has there been a greater focus on the behaviors that keep us well, and the Blue Zones model lifts well-being at the community level by making healthy choices easier in all the places people live, work, learn, and play,” said Ben Leedle, CEO of Blue Zones and co-founder of Blue Zones Project. “We look forward to collaborating with community leaders and stakeholders in empowering all residents of Mendocino County to live longer, better lives.”

The launch of Blue Zones Project Mendocino County represents the beginning of a multi-year collaborative effort that involves the entire community working together towards one common goal – to support and inspire community health and well-being. All residents of Mendocino County are welcome and encouraged to take part in Blue Zones Project programs and offerings, starting with the RealAge® Test – a scientifically based survey that provides an estimate of the body’s “Real Age” compared to biological, and offers helpful tools on how to implement positive changes that benefit both the individual, and community.

“We want to encourage all residents of Mendocino County to take the RealAge Test to join us in our community’s journey to better health,” added Tina Tyler-O’Shea, executive director of Blue Zones Project Mendocino County. “Aggregate community data from the results will be used to help identify focus areas for the Blue Zones Project initiative, so it’s essential that all community voices participate as we work together to make our county happier, and healthier. The test is free and individual results are confidential.”

The local implementation team will begin the leadership planning phase this month, with a kickoff event to follow early next year.

More information about Blue Zones Project Mendocino County is available at Mendocinocounty.bluezonesproject.com

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