• 100th Blue Zones Project Worksite Approved in Hawai‘i

    July 01, 2019
    Hilo, Hawai‘i ––Waiākeawaena Elementary School recently became the 100th Blue Zones Project Approved® worksite in Hawai‘i, joining a growing list of organizations that have made changes to their work environment to prioritize the health and well-being of their employees.
    Blue Zones Project® is brought to Hawai‘i by Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) with a goal to make healthy choices easier in the places that we live, work and play. Through efforts in worksites, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, individual engagement and policy change, the initiative is based on the best practices of the blue zones - the areas in the world where people live the longest and healthiest. The blue zones areas include Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya Penninsula, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy and Loma Linda, California.
    Waiākeawaena Elementary School became Blue Zones Project Approved by implementing these well-being best practices:
    • Established a wellness program called Kako‘o Project with a focus on relationship-building, wellness and safety.
    • Organized a Purpose Workshop for all staff as part of a professional development workday.
    • Created multiple walking routes around campus for staff to enjoy with their Walking Moai® teams.
    • Hosts events for students and staff throughout the year such as Spirit Week, to create a positive atmosphere and culture on campus.
    Suzanne Oichi, Waiākeawaena Elementary School Vice Principal, proudly explained their dedication to Blue Zones Project, “Our wellness team attended the (Blue Zones Project – sponsored) Health & Wellness Symposium last school year and we realized we were doing most of the components of Blue Zones Project. We also prioritize teaching our school community the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.At Waiakeawaena, we focus on nurturing the whole child; health and emotional well-being are important.
    “Being Blue Zones Project Approved validates all of our work with our complex and community over the years and has also helped us focus on being healthy in both our professional and personal lives,” Oichi added “The Walking Moai brought us all together and helped to deepen connections among staff members. Also, we have our #OTED incentive which promotes students being in school on time every day. Being healthy, will in turn increase student attendance and supports our main focus of academics.”
    In addition to Waiākeawaena Elementary School’s  recent Blue Zones Project Approval as a worksite, the school was recognized as a Blue Zones Project Approved School earlier this year. As a school, they completed the following best practices:
    • Actively takes part in the statewide ‘Aina Pono Program and the national Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program to provide fresh, local produce for students to enjoy.
    • Hosts Earth Day events that includes information on recycling, a Hawaiian dinner and a make-and-take plant project.
    • Incorporates wiggle cusions and balance balls into classrooms to allow for more natural movement during lessons.
    • Expanded the decade-old track and field program to include 2nd grade students and increased the volunteer roster to include more staff and parents.
    • Partnered with the County Department of Land and Natural Resources to teach students shoreline fishing and water safety techniques.
    Interested in making healthy choices easier in your worksite? Attend our upcoming Worksite Wellness event on July 31 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Hale Koa Hotel, a Blue Zones Project Approved worksite.The event is open to the public and will include speakers, workshops and best practices on enhancing your workplace culture and empowering your employees to make healthier choices. For more information on the event, visit  clicking here. Or follow Blue Zones Project on Instagram and Facebook at @bzphawaii. You can also email BlueZonesProjectHawaii@sharecare.com.
    About Blue Zones Project
    Brought to Hawai‘I by HMSA, Blue Zones Project® is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. Established in 2010, Blue Zones Project is inspired by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five regions of the world—or Blue Zones®—with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. Blue Zones Project incorporates Buettner’s findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being. Currently, 48 communities in eleven states have joined Blue Zones Project, impacting more than 3 million Americans nationwide. The initiative in Hawaii is currently in eight communities including North Hawaii Island, East Hawaii Island, West Hawaii Island, Central Maui, Koolaupoko, Manoa-Makiki-McCully-Moiliili, Kapolei-Ewa and Wahiawa along with numerous statewide worksites and partnerships. For more information, visit bzphawaii.com.
    About HMSA
    Caring for the people of Hawaii is our promise and our privilege. Working together with employers, partners, and physicians and other health care providers, we promote well-being; develop reliable, affordable health plans; and support members with clear, thoughtful guidance.
    HMSA is the most experienced health plan in the state, covering more than half of Hawaii’s population. As a recognized leader, we embrace our responsibility to strengthen the health and well-being of our community.

    Headquartered on Oahu with centers and offices statewide to serve our members, HMSA is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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