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Adventist Health St. Helena Takes First Step to Implement Innovative Blue Zones Project in Upper Napa Valley

Community Partnerships

Adventist Health St. Helena brought Blue Zones Project® to Upper Napa Valley for a series of meetings with community leaders to learn more about a collaborative project involving Blue Zones Project, a community-based initiative to work with our community stakeholders to make healthier choices easier through permanent changes to our environment, policy and social networks.

Over the course of three days, Blue Zones Project team met with key leaders as a group and one-on-one in order to learn about the Upper Napa Valley and the vision for creating a healthier community. Simultaneously, the Blue Zones Project team helped community leaders learn how partnering with Blue Zones Project could accelerate the community in achieving its goals.

As part of the presentation from the Blue Zones Project team, the 2016 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® was discussed, a definitive measure of real-time changes in well-being throughout the world, ranking Upper Napa Valley 59th in the nation in well-being out of 190 Market Statistical Areas (MSAs). When compared to the 190 MSAs across the nation, the Upper Napa Valley region ranked in the fifth quintile (lowest comparable) for financial well-being, social well-being, sadness, physical pain, alcoholic drinks >7/week, and life evaluation five years from now. Furthermore, when compared to the 20 California MSAs, the Upper Napa Valley region ranked near the bottom in the categories of financial well-being and social well-being and in the specific measures of whether friends and family bring positive energy every day and whether a person is able to use their strengths every day. The Well-Being Index is the official measurement tool of the Blue Zones Project.

Blue Zones project was born out of National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner’s examination of communities across the globe where people were happily living the longest. Buettner uncovered nine evidence-based common denominators among these “Blue Zones,” such as moving naturally and having a sense of purpose. Buettner partnered with Healthways in 2009 to spread the Blue Zones Project throughout the United States and help communities accelerate transformation through a comprehensive set of solutions designed to improve overall well-being. These solutions have measurably lowered healthcare costs, increased productivity, and improved the quality of life for residents in those communities.

So what are the next steps for the Upper Napa Valley? From the series of meetings conducted over three days including community presentations, focus groups and one-on-one meetings, a comprehensive assessment will be created by Blue Zones Project to be delivered mid-October which will include their assessment of the community’s interest and readiness to partner with Blue Zones Project and what the scope of a Blue Zones Project might look like for the Upper Napa Valley.

“Adventist Health St. Helena is committed to helping our community live healthier, longer lives, and we are excited to support this effort,” said Dr. Steven Herber, president and CEO of Adventist Health St. Helena. “Blue Zones Project offers the tools and resources to make meaningful improvements in the health and well-being for everyone in the Upper Napa Valley.”

Pictured above: Dr. Steven Herber, President & CEO of Adventist Health St. Helena, introduced Tony Buettner, Principal Blue Zones LLC, at the St. Helena Performing Arts Center, where members of the community learned about the benefits of becoming a Blue Zones Community.