A site assessment of Fayette County will be conducted next month for a project designed to help residents live longer, better lives.

The Fayette Living Well Coalition, an organization that strives to help improve health and quality of life for Fayette County, has been working to start the Blue Zone Project to Fayette.

Mike Quinn, the coalition chairman, said the Blue Zones Project was inspired by National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author Dan Buettner, who identified five regions worldwide with higher-than-average concentrations of people living to the age of 100 or older.

Quinn said Buettner’s research found variations that allow segments of the population to live longer and healthier such as diet, exercise, a sense of community and spirituality.

“There are nine parameters,” Quinn said.

He added that the coalition was able to help bring the Blue Zones Project to Fayette County with some assistance from partner organizations and grant funding.

“Fayette Living Well Coalition was able to raise some funds from some of our partner organizations that are a part of the coalition, and we received a grant from the Chevron Foundation,” he said. “Some of that fundraising is what’s helping support this initial wellness community assessment.”

Experts from the Blue Zones Project will visit Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 4 and 5 for a site assessment to determine the community’s preparedness for the program.

“We’ll start with invited meetings with some of our key community stakeholders and organizations that might be able to help continue to support the Blue Zones Project moving forward,” Quinn said. “We want to make them aware of what it is we’re doing.”

He said those organizations will include entities like financial institutions and key employers in the area.

The assessment also will feature one-to-one meetings and small focus groups with state and local representatives, school personnel and superintendents, faith-based groups, health care providers, community-engagement organizations and the media.

“We’re really trying to get some focused, detailed input from these different sections of the community that all, in their own way, impact the community,” Quinn said.

A keynote presentation by the Blue Zones Project team will be open to the public, and Quinn said it will be live streamed with opportunities for audio-visual participation.

Discussion will include the strengths and weaknesses in the county and offer input on how the community can work together to improve the health and wellness of the citizens.

According to a Share Care community well-being index, Fayette County ranks as number 52 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in terms of wellness.

In Fayette County, aspects of community wellness such as access to health care and resources, economic security and housing and transportation rank well below the national average.

Quinn said the community assessment is a valuable tool in determining how to change those figures.

“The next step is to digest the analysis that the Blue Zones staff does when they receive all of our input,” he said. “It’s going to be a very exciting couple of days.”

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