Waterloo campaigning to become Blue Zone Community - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo campaigning to become Blue Zone Community

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

City leaders are campaigning for your support -- to improve health and well-being in the Cedar Valley. Friday morning, Mayor Buck Clark announced he is applying to become a pilot community for the Blue Zone Project -- part of a state-wide health initiative.

"It will take a concerted effort by a lot of people to become one of the project cities, and the benefits we will receive is, I believe, huge," said Clark.

In May 2012, the Blue Zone Project will choose four Iowa communities in which to invest it's time, and money, creating programs focused on health and wellness. They are currently asking government entities to apply in the next few months for consideration in the Project.

"They come and they live here and teach us how to do it, so we don't have to reinvent the wheel," said Dr. Michelle Clark, an advocate for bringing the Blue Zone Project to the area.

Iowa is the second state to implement the Blue Zone Project, Minnesota was the first. Iowa's Blue Zone Communities will be modeled after the most successful in Minnesota -- Albert Lea.

"In 18 months Albert Lea reduced the cost of the city's insurance by 40%. Everybody complains about lower taxes and lower costs, etc. That's pretty impressive," Mayor Clark said.

To win, Iowans need to make a pledge online to improve their habits.

"The way we're proving that we are willing to do the work and work together as a community is to have all of us get online and sign up for the pledge to live a healthy life," said Dr. Clark.

After signing the pledge, the next step is to join the Start Somewhere Walk at noon Friday, October 7. Wherever you are at that time, you're asked to step outside and walk one kilometer -- or approximately seven blocks.

"We have to get large numbers of folks to come out to our walks to promote healthy living," said Mayor Clark.

There are several organized walks taking place at noon on Friday, including one at the Black Hawk County YMCA. But all you need to do to participate is step outside and go for a stroll.

"It would be great to go outside on Friday and see seas of people walking around downtown, or wherever you work or wherever you live," said Dr. Clark.

Iowa's Blue Zone Communities will split $25 million for health and wellness based programs. Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance are all applying for the project.

To take the pledge, or find a Start Somewhere Walk location, click here.

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