Author: E. Sue Huff                                  E. Sue Huff & Associates, Inc Community Engagement Chair for the Blue Zones Project of Southwest Florida

For the past five years, I have had the opportunity to chair the Community Engagement Committee for the Blue Zones Project of Southwest Florida; it has been rewarding to watch so many businesses and individuals embrace a healthier and happier lifestyle.  

My first introduction to the project’s POWER 9 principles was while attending a health and wellness event in 2015. I liked what I heard, and it all made perfect sense to me. Having a purpose really stood out to me as did having the right tribe. I contacted a friend who was then working with the project, and I asked how I could get involved and become a recognized business. After a short meeting, she asked me to chair the committee. I said yes and that’s how it all began for me. I was determined to help as many of my clients and other small businesses and non-profits become a recognized Blue Zones organization.  

As of August 2022, Southwest Florida is a certified Blue Zones community. It was an eight-year project to become certified, but we did it and that means all of us.  

PBS has been a shining example of a business taking the principles and incorporating them into everyday life. Whether it’s concentrating on a plant-slant diet or finding ways to de-stress, the POWER 9 really helps people and businesses create a happier and healthy environment. 

Today, the committee is focusing on sustainability. This means we want to make sure people are mindful of the Blue Zones Project and that anyone can participate. We are working to create leaders in the community by asking them to engage in some form of healthy living within their community. That could be a walking group with their friends or neighbors; a cooking class at church; an exercise or yoga group; a restaurant group that dines together once a month; a faith-based group meeting; an outdoor sports meet-up; a wine or friends at five group; or anything that brings people together for a fun healthy way. The possibilities are endless. 

Sustainability takes a team. Each person can share the POWER 9 with their friends and create at least one way in which they engage with the community. Volunteering in the community is another way of being engaged and it can be anywhere you like; it just takes the first step.  

Several months ago, I was so blessed when Aome Keough of PBS agreed to be my Vice-Chair of the Community Engagement Committee. With her help and the commitment of the PBS Team, we are excited for the future of the committee. It is through great leadership and living an example of caring about our community that will sustain us as one of the happiest and healthiest places to live in the world.    

If you would like to become engaged in your community, please sign up to receive the Blue Zones newsletter or go online to review the POWER 9. It’s easy and well worth the time. Wishing you a happy healthy life!