In Shawnee we had a jump start on all the walking fun with the formation of Walking School Buses around town and the Mayor’s Challenge to get our students to walk the distance to Japan with plenty of fun prizes to stir up more excitement. As of September 9th, 2019, the launch of the Mayor’s Challenge, local schools have logged 4,837 miles! Which is 76% of the way to JapanLet’s make it to Japan, home of our sister city Nikaho and original Blue Zone Okinawa, before 2020!

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise. It isn’t hard on our joints and feet like running and jogging but still gives us all the advantages. Advantages that include increased metabolism, improved cardiorespiratory fitness, and lower weight and BMI. In addition to the physical benefits children who walk to school have been found to have higher academic performance in terms of attention/alertness, verbal, numeric, and reasoning abilities; higher degree of pleasantness and lower levels of stress during the school day; and higher levels of happiness, excitement and relaxation on the journey to school.

If you are interested in starting or supporting a Walking School Bus at your school, please reach out to

Special thanks to all of the community partners that make our challenge possible! School wide prizes provided by Mayor Richard Finley and First United Bank. Student Prizes provided by Bell St. Retro Arcade. Volunteer walking groups from BancFirst, OBU Lacrosse, and Great Plains Graphics. And of course all of the Administrators, Teachers, and community members that were willing to champion this effort to make the healthy choice the easy choice for students!

Brought to Pottawatomie County through an innovative sponsorship by Avedis Foundation in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC, the 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.

Based on principles developed by Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author of “The Blue Zones” and “The Blue Zones Solution,” Blue Zones Project is designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to the built environment, policy and social networks.

To learn more about Blue Zones Project, contact the Blue Zones Project team in Pottawatomie County at 405-765-8052, or visit

About Avedis Foundation

Avedis Foundation is a private foundation with 501 (c) 3, nonprofit status, established in Oklahoma in 2012. Avedis seeks to measurably improve the health, wellness and quality of life for the people of Pottawatomie County and its surrounding communities. Avedis Foundation supports projects that directly benefit people from the communities we serve, particularly those projects that support overall well-being for any age group. For more information, visit 

About Blue Zones Project

Blue Zones Project® is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. Established in 2010, Blue Zones Project is inspired by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five regions of the world—or Blue Zones®—with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. Blue Zones Project incorporates Buettner’s findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being. Currently, 42 communities in nine states have joined Blue Zones Project, impacting over 3 million Americans nationwide. The movement includes multiple communities in California; 15 cities in Iowa; Albert Lea, Minnesota; the city of Fort Worth; and communities in Southwest Florida, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Blue Zones Project is a Sharecare company. For more information, visit