Fairfield selected as Blue Zones Project site
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways announced today Fairfield is one of nine small communities named a Blue Zones Project demonstration site in Iowa.
These communities are the first with populations of less than 10,000 citizens including Algona, Audubon, Decorah, Fairfield, Harlan, Osage, Red Oak, Spirit lake and Woodbine.
“It’s a proud moment for Fairfield,” said Mayor Ed Malloy. “We believe we have a strong wellness infrastructure and can come together around health, longevity and wellness.”
The Blue Zones program was inspired by National Geographic writer Dan Buettner, who studied communities around the world to learn what lifestyles promote health and longevity. Gov. Terry Branstad adopted the program as the centerpiece of his Healthiest State Initiative, which aims to raise Iowa to No. 1 in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index within five years. The progress of the demonstration site communities also will be measured using the Well-Being Index.
Later this month, Wellmark community health consultant Jenny Weber, who is overseeing the project in Fairfield, will be visiting from Des Moines to help develop plans. Malloy said the planning process will likely last five or six months, setting out ways in which Fairfield can make environmental, social, and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors.
He said the planning process will engage local grocery stores, restaurants, schools and business community to encourage participation. He said individuals will once again be asked to make a pledge online.
“All of the community members who registered as participants last year will be asked to register again and make a commitment to a behavioral or lifestyle change toward better health,” said Malloy.
Once Fairfield is finished creating an action plan, then the implementation process will begin.
Local entities will be eligible to be certified as blue zones if they meet their health goals.
“It will be a way to show and demonstrate their commitment to a healthier workforce and lifestyle,” he said.