This spring, Walla Walla University met the requirements to become a Blue Zones Project approved worksite. By documenting the adoption and continuation of employee wellness initiatives, the certification aims to support employee health and well-being, lower healthcare prices, and minimize employee turnover and absenteeism. This designation recognizes, in part, the effort over the past decade that WWU has put into creating an employee wellness program. Now as a Blue Zones Project approved worksite, WWU receives extra resources and training materials that touch on physical, mental, spiritual, and social health.
This worksite approval is a part of the larger work done by the Blue Zones Project Walla Walla Valley, a community health and well-being initiative funded by Adventist Health. WWU is one of several local organizations who are participating in the project. “I think the most exciting thing has been the merging of the university’s wellness initiatives with the Blue Zones Project programs; creating joint activities, events, and health resources,” said Erika Sanderson, director of human resources.
WWU employees can get involved in health and community activities organized by the Blue Zones Project such as walking groups or plant-based cooking classes. Students can get involved with the project as well by participating in purpose workshops, or working as interns and volunteers in connection with the WWU’s Center for Humanitarian Engagement.
Sanderson says, “We are building a community with a wellness emphasis that is beyond the university’s borders; sharing our learning with those in the community and vice versa. We hope this partnership will continue to foster growth in these areas as we bring on our new dean of wellness to oversee the comprehensive wellness program for students.”
The Blue Zones Project grew from research done by National Geographic Fellow and New York Times author Dan Buettner who discovered five zones across the world with the happiest and longest living people on the planet. The organization, owned by Adventist Health, is applying that research to create zones of health and well-being in communities across the United States.
To learn more about working at WWU or to find open positions, visit jobs.wallawalla.edu.