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UH Hilo has joined the Blue Zones movement to provide support to members of the campus community who would like to participate in the project.

Blue Zones Project Hawaiʻi is inspiring members of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo community to create a campus where people are supported in having a healthy lifestyle to live long lives. The project’s parent agency, Blue Zones, is leading a movement across the country that focuses on longevity and community health.

The healthy lifestyle concept was launched in 2012 by founder Dan Buettner, who traveled around the world to discover why people in some parts of the world live longer than others. The Blue Zones organization is working with local communities nationwide to create “permanent changes to environment, policy and social networks” to make healthy choices easier for people.

“Blue Zones provides a framework asking, ‘What would work with your community?’” says Jana Ortiz, the project’s lead organizer for East Hawaiʻi. “We want people to be living longer and better. Blue Zones aligns with Hawaiʻi culture. We love our kupuna; we respect and revere our elders. We need to tie in many of the strengths that we already have and work together to uplift our community.”

Creating Blue Zones for East Hawaiʻi and UH Hilo

Local initiatives on Hawaiʻi Island include food baskets with healthy donations and recipes, walking and pot luck groups and the Waimea KTA becoming the first Blue Zones grocery store in Hawaiʻi.

As a first step at UH Hilo, Blue Zones Project Hawaiʻi is collaborating with the Campus Center to create a registered independent student organization geared toward implementing applicable Blue Zone practices on campus.

“Blue Zones helps to consolidate a lot of great research which then makes the implementation of healthy choices more accessible,” says UH Hilo Interim Campus and Community Service Coordinator Maile Boggeln, who is serving as a liaison between the UH Hilo community and the Blue Zones Project. “I was really interested in how tangible and actionable the Blue Zones Project is. I really hope that the Blue Zones Project will help to create more awareness and give people more knowledge about making healthy choices.”

“We can help create healthier choices and make the healthy choice the easy choice through grocery stores, restaurants, worksites and our entire community’s schools and policy,” explains Jade Iokepa of Blue Zones. “We can get everyone together and make little steps.”

—A UH Hilo Stories article written by Lara Hughes, a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor

The Blue Zones philosophy

Buettner began his investigation by traveling to global locations where life expectancy and overall happiness of the communities are higher than average (see TedEd Talk video to learn more).

For more on the Blue Zones Project Hawaiʻi project, read the full UH Hilo Stories article.

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