Klamath Falls, Umpqua, The Dalles, and Grants Pass have made significant strides to improve their well-being according to a new impact report, Community-Led Transformation in Rural Oregon Communities, highlighting the community transformation through Oregon Healthiest State using the Blue Zones Project Model. With leadership funding from Cambia Health Foundation, Oregon Healthiest State worked to bring and administer the Blue Zones Project to Oregon in 2016.
According to Community Well-Being surveys in 2017, 2018, and 2020 by Sharecare and Boston University School of Public Health, Klamath Falls saw an increase in the feeling of safety and security by 14 percent and Umpqua Valley’s quality-of-life evaluations have improved by 24 percent. The surveys showed The Dalles and Grants Pass have also seen significant improvements in overall wellbeing. These improvements reflect the impact of Cambia Health Foundation’s $14.6 million investment through the Oregon Healthiest State. This investment laid the groundwork to build community resilience needed to navigate COVID-19’s unprecedented disruption to daily life.
In 2015, Klamath Falls was selected to be the first Blue Zones Project demonstration site in the Pacific Northwest, and local leaders, volunteers, and organizations throughout the community worked diligently to achieve Blue Zones Community® certification status. “We can report each community saw significant improvement as a result of this initiative,” according to Sarah Foster, executive director of the Oregon Healthiest State Initiative. As a result, Klamath Falls can celebrate more than $1.3 million in grant funding to support community well-being projects, while new ordinances for smoking cessation and tobacco prevention have supported a 24 percent decrease in smoking rates since 2015. Through built environment projects like safe routes to school, which includes separated bike lanes and complete streets, the community has seen an increase in feeling safe and secure by over 14 percent since the start of the project.
In Umpqua Valley, recently recognized as a certified Blue Zones Community®, the number of residents who consider themselves to be “thriving” is up more than 17 percent in the wake of Blue Zones project implementation, from 48.1 percent in 2017 to 56.4 percent in 2019. Community leaders and residents across Umpqua Valley have focused on community revitalization and cultivating thriving environments to live, work, learn, and play in. These efforts have resulted in quality-of-life evaluations that have improved by 24 percent.
“We’re excited to share the impact reported by the communities and Oregon Healthiest State,” said Peggy Maguire, President, Cambia Health Foundation. “We are so inspired by the progress that has been made and hopeful that this model of community-led transformation will continue to buoy the health and well-being of Oregonians in the days ahead.”
"We are proud of the community’s commitment to make well-being a way of life for all, particularly in the wake of the pandemic,” said Lance Colley, Steering Committee Chair for Blue Zones Project Umpqua. “While this Blue Zones Certification achievement has required tremendous effort and resiliency throughout the community, the policies and programs implemented in our area will have a permanent impact on the quality of life enjoyed by all of its residents, and we applaud them for their dedication.”
The Dalles and Grants Pass have also improved health and well-being outcomes. The number of The Dalles residents who say they feel proud of their community increased by 20 percent since 2017. More than 1,400 people have made a personal pledge to live healthier, longer lives and over 3,000 residents have engaged in Community Clean-Up events.
In Grants Pass, more than 2,600 individuals and 30 organizations have participated in health and well-being programs offered through Blue Zones Project, while eight local schools have participated in the Walking School Bus program.
“More and more in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities are seeking effective approaches to addressing social determinants of health, and we applaud Klamath Falls, Umpqua, The Dalles, and Grants Pass for demonstrating leadership and resiliency through this crisis,” said Sarah Foster, executive director of the Oregon Healthiest State Initiative. “The results speak for themselves – and I remain encouraged about Oregon Healthiest State’s thesis – that building community-led infrastructure that is designed to be nimble and centers civic engagement and community voice will create vibrant, healthy communities for decades to come.” The example set by these communities, she noted, can be incorporated across the state through resident involvement and leadership.
About Cambia Health Foundation
Cambia Health Foundation is the corporate foundation of Cambia Health Solutions, a total health solutions company dedicated to making health care more person-focused and economically sustainable. Founded in 2007, the foundation has funded almost $78 million in grants to advance patient- and family-centered care for all. Cambia Health Foundation strategically invests in philanthropy to change the way people experience health care from birth to natural completion of life. Learn more at www.cambiahealthfoundation.org, and follow us on Twitter: @CambiaHealthFdn.
About Oregon Healthiest State and Oregon Business Council Charitable Institute
The OBC Charitable Institute shares and supports the mission of the Oregon Business Council: to contribute to Oregon’s quality of life and economic prosperity. The OBC Charitable Institute supports OBC’s work in better health outcomes through an OBC initiative called Oregon Healthiest State (OHS). OHS is engaging and inspiring Oregon leaders in communities, institutions, and businesses across Oregon to work with their communities and one another to create and sustain policies, systems, and environments to support healthy lifestyles. This work is funded primarily by Oregon corporate supporters through the Charitable Institute.
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