Writer: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read SEPTEMBER 2019 — A new community assessment and feasibility analysis in Orange County is aiming to transform and improve local residents’ wellness and reduce health risks to make the county a more prosperous place to live, work and play.

The program is being brought to Orange County by the Orlando Economic Partnership’s Foundation for Orlando’s Future and leaders in the business community, who are working with Blue Zones to begin building a plan for a well-being transformation.

“As one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country, Orlando is attracting 1,500 new residents every week. The Foundation is responding in innovative ways to make sure the region’s rapid urban expansion goes hand-in-hand with equitable and inclusive growth,” Orlando Economic Partnership President and CEO Tim Giuliani said in a prepared statement. 

Blue Zones helps people live longer and better through community transformation programs that lower healthcare costs, improve productivity and boost national recognition as great places to live, work, and play, according to its website. Becoming a Blue Zones Community is a three-phase process, which starts with Phase I, the Readiness Assessment. During this phase,  experts collaborate with leaders to assess readiness and build a plan for change.

“Working with local leaders, we will find the best way to apply global solutions to the local context. The final roadmap for community transformation will include strategies for optimizing built environment, food systems, financial literacy, tobacco, alcohol, happiness, and well-being policies so that people are constantly nudged toward healthier choices, behaviors, and lasting habits,” Dan Buettner, Blue Zones founder and National Geographic fellow and explorer, said in a written statement.

Blue Zones Project communities have experienced double-digit drops in obesity, smoking and BMI (body mass index), millions of dollars of savings in healthcare costs and measurable drops in employee absenteeism. As stated in its website, through its community-wide approach to well-being, Blue Zones improves or optimizes city streets (smoking policies, bike lanes, sidewalks), public spaces (parks, lakes, walking paths), schools (cafeterias, safe walking paths to school), restaurants, grocery stores, employers, faith-based organizations, and community involvement.

From Sept. 9-13, Buettner and his world-renowned team of experts will meet with community leaders to create the framework for a well-being policy bundle that it hopes will transform Orange County.

“This effort is part of the mission of the Foundation for Orlando’s Future, created by the Orlando Economic Partnership, to equip the region’s leaders with research and strategies that help them plan for the future,” said Giuliani.

 

To learn more, visit:

Orlando Economic Partnership: https://www.orlandoedc.com/Home.aspx 

Blue Zones: https://www.bluezones.com/activate-orange-county/