Two hundred people from Cashiers, Franklin, Highlands, Sylva and Macon and Jackson counties attended the BlueZones Kickoff Presentation on Monday, June 10. As chair of the organizing committee, I want to thank everyone who attended this gathering of communities in Western Carolina.

It is not hard to imagine a BlueZones Region here in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The creation of a BlueZones region consisting of the communities cited above has the potential to transform the health, and overall vitality of these communities in this region. The program supports efforts to foster individual longevity and engagement.

Tony Buettner, the keynote speaker at the kickoff, emphasized that BlueZones Communities are being created across the country. When communities buy into actualizing the nine points of the BlueZones program, positive, measurable results related to health and wellness of the overall population occur.

The next step in the process will be for the organizing committee to process the data collected from attendees at the kickoff session. That information, coupled with feedback from stakeholder institutions, will determine the community and regional interest in moving to the next study and needs assessment phase of the BlueZones program.

The organizing committee will share the results of the surveys in the weeks to come. In the meantime, questions concerning the BlueZones program can be answered by contacting me at 506-7025.

I want to thank all the people who worked on the initial organizing committee and those folks and organizations who have been so receptive and supportive of this initial effort.

Without support from all these Western Carolina communities this first BlueZones program would not have been the success that it was.

Sallie Taylor,

Chair, BlueZones organizing