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Pine County Announces Launch of Blue Zones Activate

Press Release:

Pine County today announced the launch of Blue Zones Activate, a well- being initiative that uses an evidence-based approach to make healthy choices easier in all the places people spend the most time. The effort begins with an in-depth readiness and feasibility assessment of Pine County that will help determine how to make it a healthier place to live, work, grow up, and grow older.

“Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of everyone in Pine County, and we’ve

been making incredible strides with our public health team,” said Stephen Hallan, Pine County Commissioner. “We’re excited to partner with Blue Zones, along with direct collaboration from the community, to help identify current challenges and opportunities so that Pine County is a healthier, happier place where everyone can thrive.”

Blue Zones, LLC originated in Minnesota and has been successful in over 70 communities

using a proven model in collaboration with communities to help people live better and longer. Research shows where people live has a bigger influence on their health than their genetics. Blue Zones tackles this “zip code effect” using scientifically proven lessons of longevity, health, and happiness gleaned from 20 years of research to boost the well-being of entire cities, towns, counties, and regions.

The Blue Zones approach focuses on the single largest determinant of health: the place we live. Instead of focusing on individual behavior change, Blue Zones helps communities make

permanent and semi-permanent changes to policies, systems, streets, surroundings, and social networks so it’s easier for residents to eat wisely, move naturally, and connect more with others as they advance throughout their day. By improving the Life Radius ® —the area close to home where most Americans spend 90% of their lives—Blue Zones transformations have been able to move the needle dramatically in improving overall population health and well-being, raising employee and student productivity, and boosting economic vitality and development.

“Essentia Health-Sandstone is excited to support Pine County Health’s efforts with Blue Zones. This work will help narrow our health gaps as identified in our community health needs assessment (CHNA) and ultimately improve health, longevity, and quality of life for Pine County residents,” said Tanya Christopherson, Dietary Supervisor at Essentia Health-Sandstone and Pine County resident.

“We are excited to work with Pine County in this bold shared vision to improve well-being,

resilience, and economic vitality,” said Ben Leedle, Blue Zones CEO and Co-founder of Blue

Zones Project. “Improving well-being at the community level leads to healthier and happier

residents, a better and more productive workforce, and a more vibrant economy. We are excited to work together to create a transformation plan that will improve the lives of current and future generations.”

The Blue Zones expert team will connect with Pine County leaders and organizations to begin immediate work assessing the strengths, needs, and challenges that residents are facing today. Blue Zones will then create a policy-focused transformation plan that, once implemented, can drive widespread improvements in well-being, reductions in healthcare costs, and improve economic vitality in the region.

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