Blue Zones Project Fort Worth, the largest demonstration site for the global well-being initiative, is nearing its goals for signing up work sites, people, restaurants, grocery stores, and schools and assisting in changes to community policy. The Fort Worth City Council earlier this year voted to make changes to the city’s no-smoking ordinance, prohibiting smoking in bars and bingo halls, viewed as the last major initiative to be undertaken after Blue Zones launched the Fort Worth project in 2015.
“We are narrowing in on meeting all those objectives that were laid out five years ago,” Matt Dufrene, Blue Zones' top local executive, said. Early this fall, “we will have met the majority of our certification requirements.” The national organization will then certify Fort Worth has met requirements for Blue Zones certification.
Texas Health Resources footed the $500,000 bill for a feasibility study in 2014; the project kicked off a year later with a four-year time frame toward certification. Blue Zones promulgates recommendations for better living based on lessons learned from communities where people live the longest. That’s said to lower health care costs, improve productivity, and promote higher quality of life.
It promotes “Power 9” recommendations for individuals, including moving about naturally, living with purpose, downshifting to manage stress, stopping eating when 80 percent full, having a plant-focused diet, drinking alcohol moderately, belonging to a faith-based community, putting family first, and having lifelong friends.
In work sites, Blue Zones Fort Worth has signed up 116 work sites, representing 57,000 employees. The goal is 70,000 employees represented. Blue Zones added Lockheed Martin in 2016, Bell Helicopter and TCU in 2017, and Tarrant County earlier this year. It’s working with the Fort Worth public schools. Dufrene: “That’s going to get us right at our goal."
In personal engagement, which covers everything from personal pledges to individual visits to Blue Zones cooking classes, the organization has recorded 75,000 touchpoints. The goal is more than 83,000.
For restaurants, Blue Zones has signed up 59, against a goal of 63. That includes TCU Market Square and the Lockheed Martin and Bell cafeterias, counted apart from the work sites. Blue Zones surpassed its grocery store goal in 2017, with 19, against a goal of 14.
Blue Zones has signed up 37 schools in five school districts, against a goal of 44. In policy, it’s provided input into transportation, food, and tobacco. In transportation, that means policy that protects people who want to get around by means other than car. “We just want to make sure that all users of the road have safe routes and are accessible,” Dufrene said.