Cedar Rapids earns Blue Zones certification

Milestone to be noted at March 8 event

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids will be officially certified as a Blue Zones community next month, according to the community wellness organization.

Cedar Rapids was named a Blue Zones demonstration site in January 2013 and has been working since then to become certified by incorporating and upgrading a range of health and wellness-minded offerings through schools, restaurants and workplaces. “As the largest community in Iowa to undertake this project, we are proud of the broad-based and comprehensive progress we’ve made toward healthy living as a way of life,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett said in a statement. “We continue to rebuild and re-imagine our city for the future with a focus on our citizens and a strong quality of life.”

A certification event will be held 4 to 7 p.m. March 8 at the Helen G. Nassif YMCA, 207 Seventh Ave. SE.

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Healthways Inc., and Blue Zones granted the certification, citing a series of accomplishments: 56 Blue Zones worksites, 16 Blue Zones schools, 36 Blue Zones restaurants, four Blue Zones grocery stores and 22,000 residents who have taken the Blue Zones pledge to take action for their well-being. Also, city officials successfully completed a “Blue Zones Community Policy bundle” to promote health and well-being.

Other accomplishments including upgraded streets under a newly adopted Complete Streets design standard, which sets out that roads should be suitable for motor vehicles, as well as bikes, pedestrians and public transit buses. Cedar Rapids also has seen 18 schools plant gardens, 12 schools incorporate “walking school buses,” an increase in bike lanes and the addition of green and protected bike lanes,

Blue Zones initiatives are part of Cedar Rapids’ fiscal 2017 budget, including goals of adding 2,600 feet of sidewalk per year to improve connectivity and to identify community organizations to partner with to continue the Blue Zones effort.

Cedar Rapids is one of 15 cities around Iowa certified or working toward the Blue Zones certification. Others include Marion, Iowa City, Cedar Falls and Waterloo.

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