20 Jun Have You Heard of Blue Zone and Could Beaufort Be One?
Not long after being elected Mayor I hosted several meetings with the Chancellor of USCB, the President of TCL, the CEO of Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the Director of Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services to pitch the idea of finding financial and technical support toward establishing Beaufort as a wellness destination. The vision was simply to train healthcare and community workers to address our community’s largest health challenge (juvenile diabetes) and in the end have a cadre of healthcare or wellness professionals to market our community as a destination for getting better, addressing health care needs or simply taking time off to “tune up” to healthy living. For a number of reasons, the seed never grew roots and I realized the undertaking was more than a part time mayor of a small city could take on. The good news is that while the collaboration never happened, BMH, BJHCHS and the public schools have worked independently on community health and I have no doubt that the Spanish Moss Trail has facilitated movement which is a key ingredient to healthy living.
A few years later, with the help of Robb Wells from the Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce’s division charged with marketing our community to visitors, we assembled a small group from within the hospitality industry to discuss marketing wellness. Beaufort Memorial put together a complimentary week long demonstration of possible activities for those interested. But again, people seemed too busy to invest the time or energy to try something new.
A few weeks ago, Verity Investment Partners hosted a representative of an organization called Blue Zones to share a presentation on what constitutes a healthy person and a healthy community. After years of studying communities across the globe, and what the most healthy communities have in common, the group developed a plan for creating healthier communities, where people get sick less often and live longer and have more healthy and productive lives. They then assembled a team of experts who work with communities that decide they want to become a Blue Zone Community.
It appeared from questions asked and general talk around the room that a number of people were intrigued by the discussion and would like to learn more. If there is enough interest, I will try to help assemble a follow-up.
To take on an opportunity like this is not inexpensive, it takes commitment, dedicated leadership and staying power. The city of Beaufort does not have the financial resources to carry this forward but I think the greater community does and we should explore. I will work with those who are interested.