Hawai’i County Planning Department Named Blue Zones Worksite
The County of Hawai’i Planning Department took the principles of healthy best practices to heart, earning recognition as the first county department in the state to receive the Blue Zones Approved worksite designation.
The Blue Zones concept of healthy living, aimed at a longer, healthier life, was pioneered by a book of the same name by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner, who explored areas where people routinely live to age 100 or older. Among the longevity-favored locales is Okinawa and Japan—areas many Big Islanders descend from.
The Planning Department navigated a long list of criteria and tasks in order to clinch the designation on July 11.
According to Jana Ortiz-Misiaszek, Organizational Lead with Blue Zones Project – East Hawai’i, the Planning Department achieved Blue Zones Project recognition by adopting the following best practices that promote well-being:
- Plant-based cooking demonstrations—using in house staff to demo and share their favorite recipes;
- Organized walking groups—to increase natural movement throughout the work day and connect with co-works in a positive manner;
- Personality testing—administered to staff and sharing each other strengths to improve communication and productivity;
- Wellness Wednesday communication strategy—email staff health related programs, updates, testimonials, invitations once a week to limit multiple emails;
- Created a worksite wellness program named Planning 4 Wellness;
- Established multiple walking routes and maps that include time and distance.
Planning staff recently showcased their Blue Zones-inspired healthy cuisine with rave reviews at a recent meeting of the Mayor’s Cabinet. The rest of the County Departments were encouraged to take Planning’s example by seeking Blue Zones Approved worksite status.