A group of people holding a congratulations banner
Far left is Interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza holding framed certificate of designation, and to his left is UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai. Photo by Eli Owens.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has become the second UH campus to be designated as a Blue Zones Project Approved™ worksite. Blue Zones Project® is a community led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier.

The Blue Zones concept of healthy living is modeled on the best practices of places where people not only live longer by reaching the age of 100 at an astonishing rate, but also enjoy a higher quality of life. A celebration was held at UH Hilo in April to mark the campus’ milestone.

UH Hilo now joins a number of businesses and organizations working together to transform Hilo into a Blue Zones community by adopting healthy best practices,” said Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai. “As an institution of higher learning, we are already well-versed in developing healthy minds. We can now look forward to taking that next step to promoting overall physical well-being.”

UH Hilo clinched its designation on March 2 by getting at least 25 percent of its employees to sign the Blue Zones Personal Pledge and implementing the following actions to promote well-being:

  • Creation of a wellness committee, and an annual engagement plan outlining wellness program activities and communication strategy
  • Formation of a UH Hilo webpage dedicated to Blue Zones Project information
  • Designation of parking stalls with signage encouraging people to park farther away for added steps
  • Hosting “Purpose Workshops” to help people discover their gifts, talents and purpose
  • Organized healthy cooking demonstrations
  • Formed “Walking Moai” groups to connect with others and enjoy walking together

Blue Zones Project organizational lead Jana Ortiz-Misiaszek noted that worksite approval isn’t the finish line but the first step of what she hopes will be a series of achievements.

UH Hilo has been a wonderful partner in well-being and provides opportunities to make the healthy choice become the easy choice on campus,” Ortiz-Misiaszek said. “We now look forward to seeing how they evolve.”

In 2016, Windward Community College was the first college in Hawaiʻi to be designated as a Blue Zones Project Approved worksite.

Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association brought the Blue Zones Project initiative to Hawaiʻi to create a healthier, happier Hawaiʻi. For more information about the Blue Zones Project, contact the East Hawaiʻi team at bluezonesprojectbigisland@sharecare.com or visit the Blue Zones website.

For more images from the UH Hilo event, see UH Hilo Stories.

—By Alyson Kakugawa-Leong