Blue Zones Project® in Pottawatomie County has announced that Shawnee Middle School has achieved designation as a Blue Zones Project Approved™ School, one of only two in Oklahoma and the first in Shawnee Public Schools.

This approval comes as a result of school leadership working through the Blue Zones Project School Pledge – a menu of research based action items, which enable school leaders to create an environment that instills healthy lifestyle choices both today and for years to come.

A few of the ways Shawnee Middle School is impacting student well-being include:

• Monthly Walking School Bus which utilizes the Avedis Walking Trail and encourages natural movement in students and teachers.

• An indoor garden (as well as application for a grant to build an outdoor school garden next year).

• Creation of a Healthy Snack Program that allows students to purchase healthy snacks inside the classroom.

• Introduction of volunteerism and natural movement into the student’s days through volunteering at the Regional Food Bank.

One creative component of Shawnee Middle School’s approval is the implementation of local community group, Community Renewal’s, “Locker Leaders.” Teacher and classmate nominated students from every grade level “adopt” the students at the 5 lockers around theirs. Adult community members come in monthly to work with these students on leadership skills, personal development and antibullying ideas to implement daily and share with their locker neighbors. The tasks include telling their “neighbors” a joke, ask them all how they are doing, and inviting them to sit by them at lunch. The idea is to teach citizenship and encourage students to build relationships, trust, and support.

Brought to Pottawatomie County through an innovative sponsorship by the Avedis Foundation in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC, Blue Zones Project is a community-by-community well-being improvement initiative designed to enable community members to live longer, happier lives with lower rates of chronic diseases and a higher quality of life.

To learn more about Blue Zones Project, contact the Blue Zones Project team in Pottawatomie County at 405-765-8071, or visit www.bluezonesproject.com.