Two-thirds of Iowans are overweight. Governor Terry Branstad wants to reverse that.
The second round of Blue Zone towns is underway. Towns of less than 10,000 are under review for Blue Zone worthiness.
Spirit Lake, Iowa, is ready to take on the challenge to go blue.
"They'd be on their way to living happy and healthier lives, with less incidents of disease," said Becky Wampler, director of sustainability for Wellmark BlueCross BlueShield of Iowa.
Leaders from the community came together at the Foster YMCA camp for evaluations from Blue Zone specialists, to deem whether Spirit Lake is doing the right things to get ready. Most think the town made a favorable impression.
"When Spirit Lake wants to make things happen, people typically come together and we're able to do a lot of things," said David Smith, superintendent for Spirit Lake Community Schools.
"We have a great history of collaborating well with each other, not only in Spirit Lake, but with the Iowa Great Lakes community, like Milford, Arnolds Park, and Okoboji, and we really work well together. And I think they saw that," said Jessica Gustafson of Lakes Region Healthcare. "And I think that they think we're ready."
After an introduction to rules of Blue Zone and its policies, smaller groups of business, health care, and school officials came together to look at how well they're doing already.
"Just from my breakout group, I think they're on the right track," said Wampler.
A large part of the initiative falls on the backs of schools, to start healthy habits early. Spirit Lake's school superintendent David Smith laid out plans for a new kitchen, which was warmly received by Blue Zone officials.
"We think it's really going to catapult us. I think if we can get the plans in place, it can really catapult us into a position with our changing service and public school," said Smith.
Smith hopes to start that partnership with Blue Zone right away, so the school can start off right.
"To get the plans finalized the way we need to have them, and the folks at Blue Zone are eager and anxious to help us out, so we're eager to partner with them," said Smith.
The excitement wasn't limited to only Smith.
"We'll really be able to spread this contagion, as they termed it throughout the state and hopefully achieve Gov. Branstad's goal to make Iowa the healthiest state," said Gustafson.
Although there are 10 finalists for the Blue Zone distinction, all could possibly advance past the next round of cuts in October.
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