E OLA PONO, E OLA LOA (Live Longer, Live Better)
Blue Zones Project has a simple mission—promote healthier lifestyles for everyone in Hawai’i. The organization focuses on involving the entire community to work together to make the healthy choice, the easy choice and to leave the greatest impact on the generations to come. Small changes can create great benefits for all of us; lower healthcare costs, better social connections, and an overall higher quality of life.
Compared to commercial health programs, like strict diets or intense workout regimens, Blue Zones Project emphasizes the importance of social and environmental influences. Guided by lifestyle secrets of the world’s longest-lived people, the Power 9® encourages us all to get up and move, eat smarter, make stronger connections, and find a true sense of purpose.
In this systematic approach, Blue Zones Project aims to improve well-being through promoting individual action, activating organizations, building coalitions, and supporting policy change. They work with numerous partners from worksites, schools, grocery stores, faith-based groups, and public agencies to apply well-being practices and make the healthy choice the easy choice.
One of Blue Zones Project’s priorities is to promote walking and biking for healthier, age-friendly communities. Higher active transportation rates support public health, boost local economic activity, encourage play in parks and public spaces, reduce traffic, and positively impact the natural environment, which aligns with climate action goals. The organization does this through community programs, such as bike workshops and walking moais (small walking groups), group steps challenges, which can be tracked on the Sharecare mobile app, and Safe Routes to School efforts.
Recently, Blue Zones Project coordinated community Quick Build projects in the Kapolei and Makiki neighborhoods. Groups of partners in both communities came together to construct and paint decorative curb extensions to slow traffic, increase pedestrian and biker safety, and highlight natural elements of the area through the artwork. These Safe Routes to School projects aim to allow more students and parents to walk, bike, and roll to and from campus, while addressing safety, comfort, and interest on our streets.
Blue Zones Project also helps worksites promote active transportation options and mode shift and reduce single occupancy vehicle miles traveled. Employers organize carpooling, provide bikeshare and bus passes, and create policies to incentivize cleaner and healthier forms of transportation, such as walking and biking.
Blue Zones Project also supports bike safety and accessibility by partnering with Bikeshare Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Bicycling League to lead workshops, host community bike rides, and advocate for more protected bike lanes. In partnership with AARP, this collective led a series of introductory Biki bike classes for older adults and helped over a hundred kūpuna learn how to use Honolulu’s bikeshare system.
Author: Keawe Tong, Blue Zones Project Intern