A Blue Zones team is coming to Shawnee next week to assess Shawnee's potential so they can learn how to best implement the program.

A Blue Zones team is coming to Shawnee next week to assess Shawnee's potential so they can learn how to best implement the program.

(The team) will be in town March 21-23 surveying the built environment in Shawnee and Pottawatomie County to identify opportunities for making streets and public spaces more walkable, bike-friendly and livable, Senior Manager Erika Graves, Blue Zones Project Operations, said.

“We will offer a presentation to business leaders about the connection between the built environment and the local economy from 10-11 a.m. Tuesday at Vintage Venue, at 120 N. Broadway,” she said.

Directly after the talk, Graves said Blue Zones built environment experts Dan Burden and Samantha Thomas will do a walking audit of downtown Shawnee.

“We have invited business leaders, city officials and staff, and health and non-profit partners to this event,” Graves said.

The walking tour is open to the general public.

“A walking audit is where Dan and Samantha walk around an area with great potential and stop and share their insights at several points along the route,” Graves said.

On Wednesday morning, the group plans to gather at City Hall to begin a driving tour of Pottawatomie County. In the afternoon, the team will take a biking tour of Shawnee, leaving from Pottawatomie County Peddler’s Bike Shop.

These tours are scheduled to address biking potential, as well as help Blue Zones team members familiarize themselves with the area and how residents habitually navigate through it.

The effort began in January when the Avedis Foundation, Blue Zones, LLC and Healthways, Inc., launched the Blue Zones Project in Pottawatomie County — after a preliminary visit in October.

The team held focus groups the first week of March to find out more about the area and residents. The public was involved in discussing well-being across sectors in the community in its first opportunity for participation with the Blue Zones Project in Pottawatomie County. Graves said attendance at the focus groups yielded close to 170 residents.

During focus group discussions, coordinators posed questions to panels of Shawnee residents, trying to get a feel for what the community has to work with and where it wants to go.

Based on feedback, the Blue Zones team is compiling a list of the city's strengths, challenges and opportunities.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.