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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas Joins City of Fort Worth, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and Other Community Leaders to Implement Blue Zones Project® in Fort Worth

May. 21, 2014

Through Financial Gift and Community Catalyst Grant, BCBSTX Leads Fort Worth to Sustainable Improvement in Longevity and Well-Being

Fort Worth, TX — Fort Worth leaders are partnering with Blue Zones and Healthways to improve the well-being of the City's residents, and Blue Zones Project in Fort Worth is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to a generous $5 million Charter Sponsorship from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX). Of that sponsorship, $2.5 million is in the form of a Community Catalyst Grant to encourage community participation by matching donations dollar-for-dollar. This community-wide effort will result in lowered health care costs, increased productivity and improved quality of life for Fort Worth residents.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is pleased to support Blue Zones Project in Fort Worth with a $5 million Charter Sponsorship investment. We share a common goal of making the healthy choice the easy choice," said Bert Marshall, president, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. "Half of our gift is in the form of a Community Catalyst Grant because community efforts require community investment. Our goal is to incentivize leaders in Fort Worth to raise the $2.5 million in catalyst grant funds before the end of the year. I invite others in Fort Worth to join me in supporting this groundbreaking community well-being project."

Coming to Fort Worth through collaboration with leadership from the City of Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Texas Health Resources and others, Blue Zones Project is a proven approach to helping people live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

"Fort Worth is fortunate to have a business community that understands what it takes to make a difference and bring about real, positive change in our city," said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. "Our friends at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas believe in the importance of healthy, active living—not just for our residents, but for our businesses as well. This generous donation and the community challenge lay the foundation which enables Fort Worth to work with Blue Zones Project to become one of the healthiest cities in the nation."

Douglas D. Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, added, "Texas Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas have a long-standing collaborative relationship to improve the health and well-being of the people in the communities we serve. I extend my personal thanks to Bert Marshall for embracing this Project from the beginning and for serving as an example to others that we can indeed transform health and well-being by working together."

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. A team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers and epidemiologists uncovered nine evidence-based common denominators among these "Blue Zones," such as moving naturally and having a sense of purpose.

Buettner founded the Blue Zones organization to bring these secrets of longevity to a broad audience, partnering with well-being improvement leader Healthways in 2009 to help communities accelerate transformation through a comprehensive set of solutions designed to improve individual and community well-being. Partnered with Blue Zones, Healthways has successfully implemented Blue Zones Projects in the Beach Cities of Southern California and the entire state of Iowa, with implementation also underway in the entire state of Hawaii in addition to Fort Worth.

Buettner has been impressed with Fort Worth and its leadership since he visited the city last summer as part of the Blue Zones Project assessment, which was underwritten by Texas Health Resources as part of its community benefit. "A transformational initiative of this scale in Fort Worth requires support from local organizations, and I commend Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas for demonstrating their visionary leadership by making this commitment to Blue Zones Project," Buettner said. "The energy brewing here in North Texas is fantastic, and the support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas will inspire other local businesses and organizations to become involved in the Project. It is the perfect environment to create America's next Blue Zone."

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® (WBI) will serve as a measurement tool for the Project. The WBI is the first and most comprehensive daily assessment of U.S. residents' health and well-being in existence, giving governments, employers and communities unmatched insight into the health and prosperity of their populations. A baseline WBI survey across Fort Worth will be completed this year, allowing leaders to both identify specific challenges Fort Worth residents face and measure improvement through the course of the five-year initiative.

As Blue Zones Project launches later this year, they will be using a neighborhood-by-neighborhood and business-by-business movement to improve the emotional, physical and social well-being of everyone who lives, works and plays in Fort Worth based on learnings from Blue Zones and WBI research. The expected result is lower healthcare cost trends, higher productivity, and improved economic and social vitality.

Research shows employees with higher well-being are more productive, so Blue Zones Project helps ensure the economic vitality of the Fort Worth workforce, according to local leaders. "Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas has demonstrated its commitment to the citizens of our region with this generous charter gift, and has exemplified tremendous leadership in offering to match other donors' contributions," said Bill Thornton, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. "We encourage members of the business community to make their own corporate investments in our Blue Zones Project, whether through a financial commitment or by implementing wellness initiatives in their own organizations."

"Healthways commends the leadership of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas for its commitment to enhancing the quality of life of the citizens of Fort Worth, and we look forward to collaborating with them to implement Blue Zones Project," said Healthways president and CEO Ben R. Leedle, Jr. "Sustained transformation depends on having a built environment and social policies that support and reinforce well-being improvement programs. In the Beach Cities and throughout Iowa we have seen first-hand the impact that Blue Zones Project has had on community well-being, and we are excited to move forward in our efforts to share this important work with Fort Worth."

For more information on the Fort Worth Blue Zones Project, please visit www.texas.bluezonesproject.com , or to learn about opportunities to give and be involved in the Project, please email bluezonesproject@texashealth.org.


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