Local News

February 28, 2014

Blue Zones Project Osky Team announced

OSKALOOSA – Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways announced Thursday the hiring of the Blue Zones Project Oskaloosa Community Team.

Team members are Natalie Ferguson Spray as Community Program Manager, Danny Heggen as Project Manager, Valinn McReynolds as Organization Lead and Miranda Cummings as Engagement Lead for the Blue Zones Project in Oskaloosa. The local staff will be responsible for implementing Blue Zones programs and principles as Oskaloosa works towards Blue Zones Community Certification.

“The Oskaloosa team is ready to lead and ignite our community and is committed to providing healthy choices to increase the overall well-being in the place we call home,” said Natalie Spray, Community Program Manager. “We look forward to transforming Oskaloosa together.”

Brought to Iowa through an innovative sponsorship by Wellmark in collaboration with Healthways and Blue Zones, the Blue Zones Project initiative encourages all Iowa communities to change their built environments to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The Blue Zones Project is the centerpiece of the Healthiest State Initiative, designed to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016. This status is measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents’ health and well-being.

In January 2013, Oskaloosa was named a Blue Zones Project demonstration site. Oskaloosa and the 14 other demonstration communities in Iowa are receiving assistance from national experts to develop and implement a Blueprint for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors that can lead to longer, happier lives.

Blue Zones Project Oskaloosa team:

Natalie Ferguson Spray, Community Program Manager

As Community Program Manager, Spray will lead the transformation of Oskaloosa into a Blue Zones Community through the adoption and implementation of a community-wide well-being improvement Blueprint. Spray a native to Oskaloosa and graduate from William Penn University comes to us from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach where she was a Program Coordinator; providing administrative and leadership through research-based programming to support long term change. Spray has played an active role on the Mahaska Wellness Coalition and helped co-lead Blue Zones Project demonstration site application efforts. Spray is most passionate about her 5 year old daughter and helping on the family farm. Spray enjoys volunteering, being active in the community, and staying physically fit and healthy. Spray serves as a board member for a local non-profit organization and serves on several advisory councils.

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