The Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce will host three open houses on Tuesday, December 13 to allow community members to explore the Blue Zones Project, a community-based approach to transform the environments in which Iowans live, work and play to improve their emotional, physical and social health.
The first open house will take place at the Chamber office, 325 E. Washington St. in Iowa City, from 8:30-10 a.m. The second will be at Coralville City Hall, 1512 Seventh St., from noon-1:30 p.m. The final will be at North Liberty's recreation center, 520 W. Cherry St., from 3:30-5 p.m.
The Chamber is leading the Iowa City area to become one of ten designated Blue Zones communities. If selected, the Iowa City Area would receive direct assistance from national experts to become a healthier and happier community.
One such success story, Albert Lea, Minnesota, experienced significant results as a Blue Zones prototype. More than 25 percent of its population participated in the program, adopting healthy habits that radically changed their lives. In Albert Lea:
· Life expectancy increased an average of 3.2 years.
· Participants lost an average of 3 lbs. each.
· An average 21 percent drop in absenteeism by key employers.
· City employees showed a 49 percent decrease in health care costs.
“We have an intellectually curious community, which I believe will enjoy learning what natural environments will improve our individual and collective health,” said Nancy Quellhorst, president and CEO of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce. “In addition to reducing health care costs and improving quality of life, we look forward to the camaraderie that will be established by addressing a shared goal for businesses, local government, non-profits, education and the community at large.”
Assisting the Chamber with the Blue Zones process is Mercy, the University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City Community School District, United Way, cities of Coralville, Iowa City and North Liberty, Hy-Vee, University of Iowa Hospitals, and others.
Citizen support is an important selection factor, so the Chamber encourages citizens to help bring Blue Zones principles to our community by attending one of the three open houses and by registering support at www.bluezonesproject.com. Click on the green button “I’m a Citizen. Support Your Community.” Under the “City” field, please enter Iowa City Area and use your home zip code. You may also pledge by texting “BZP” to 772937. Those who are interested in participating in the initiative should contact the Chamber at (319) 337-9637 or firstname.lastname@example.org.