Prineville Selected as Finalist for Three-Year, $200,000 Blue Zone Projects Grant

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Why do whole communities of people live longer than others?

In 2004, National Geographic and the world’s best longevity experts teamed up to discover why. They traversed the globe and found pockets of people who reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than people in the United States. Researchers found that these “Blue Zones,” as they came to be known, shared common lifestyles that helped people live longer, better lives.

Leveraging the secrets of these “longevity hot spots,” the Blue Zones Project is a nationwide initiative to help transform communities across the United States into areas where making healthy choices is easy.

And Prineville may be the next Blue Zone Project to be pinned on the map.

Prineville has been chosen by the Oregon Blue Zones Project as one of three finalists to be Oregon’s next Blue Zone Project city. If selected, the Prineville Blue Zone Project would be awarded a three-year, $200,000 grant to be a statewide demonstration project administered through Oregon Healthiest State and funded through the Cambia Foundation.

“It would be such an honor for Prineville to be a statewide demonstration project,” said Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe. “Being able to make such a substantial investment in the health and well-being of our residents will make our community even more attractive to businesses and people.”

Blue Zones Projects across the country have demonstrated success in lowering health care costs, improving productivity, increasing civic engagement and boosting a community’s recognition as a great place to live, learn, work and play. In these areas, citizens, schools, employers, restaurants, grocery stores and community leaders work together on policies and programs that move the community toward better health and well-being. The approach implements long-term, evidence-backed policies and interventions that optimize environments and nudge people toward healthier choices throughout their day.

“Recently, substantial infrastructure has been developed in Prineville—the bike park, Apple’s investment in a water treatment center and the new St. Charles Prineville hospital, to name a few,” said Crook County Public Health Director Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown. “This infrastructure improvement has set the stage for a healthier community. Now, we have the opportunity through the Blue Zones Project to take the next step and engage the community in healthier behaviors.”

The next step in the application process is a site visit by representatives of Oregon Blue Zones Project on Thursday, October 6, from 2–5pm at Meadow Lakes Golf Course in Prineville. The community is invited to attend to learn about Blue Zones and to show support for the grant funding.Please RSVP to Holly Wenzel at 541-447-5165 hwenzel@h.co.crook.or.us if you plan on attending.

“The Prineville Blue Zone Project empowers our community to take charge of its health and well-being,” said Dr. Jeffrey Absalon, Chief Physician Officer at St. Charles Health System. “St. Charles Health System’s vision is ‘Creating America’s healthiest community, together.’ The Prineville Blue Zones Project helps move us toward that vision.”

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