Blue Zones and Barry Community Foundation Launch Groundbreaking Countywide Transformation

Blue Zones takes their innovative approach to improving community health to Barry County, Michigan

The Barry Community Foundation and other local leaders have joined forces with Blue Zones to begin a countywide well-being transformation in Barry County, Michigan through the Blue Zones Activate program. Blue Zones uses scientifically proven lessons of longevity, health, and happiness to boost the well-being of entire communities. Barry County is proud to be the first community in Michigan to partner with this innovative approach to increase community health and wellness.

Blue Zones Activate is based on research and principles developed by Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author, who identified the cultures of the world—or blue zones—with the healthiest, longest-living populations.

Blue Zones focuses on the single largest determinant of our health: the place we live. By focusing on the places where people live, work, learn, and play, Blue Zones has been able to help communities move the needle in improving overall population health and reducing healthcare costs in hundreds of places around the country. The innovative strategy is built on the foundation of improving food and built environment policies that impact public health and health inequalities to increase the availability of healthy choices within the community

By optimizing the places where people spend most of their time, Blue Zones Activate helps communities with policy initiatives to create environments where healthy choices are easier and accessible to everyone. As a result, people can live longer and better, and communities can lower healthcare costs, improve productivity, and boost their city’s national recognition as a great place to live, work, and play.

As an official Blue Zones Activate community, world-renowned Blue Zones experts will work with local leaders and citizens of Barry County to implement policies that drive lasting and sustainable changes that will benefit the entire community and future generations to follow.

The Barry Community Foundation is the lead partner, with primary sponsorships from the MTC Community Fund, Spectrum Health Pennock, and Hastings Fiberglass, and supporting sponsorships from Highpoint Community Bank, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, the DeCamp Foundation, Barry Community Foundation, Barry Eaton District Health Department and Barry County.

“The board of the Barry Community Foundation is committed to building a vibrant healthy community through our adaptation of Seven Elements of a Healthy Community. Specifically, our vision statement for Health Access is for our residents to have access to high-quality health services on a personal, community and systems level. Blue Zones is the perfect program to provide the means for our community to institute systemic pathways for a healthy community,” says Bonnie Gettys, President and CEO of the Barry Community Foundation.


Ben Leedle, CEO of Blue Zones, says: “I am impressed with the local will and drive to make Barry County a better place to live, grow up, and grow old from the community leaders as well as local changemakers. I’m excited to see the changes to come that will help make the region a healthy and thriving community for current and future generations.”

For more information on Blue Zones Activate or to learn how to get involved, visit

About Blue Zones® 
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The company’s work is rooted in explorations and research done by National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner in blue zones regions around the world, where people live extraordinarily long or happy lives. The original research and findings were released in Buettner’s bestselling books The Blue Zones Solution, The Blue Zones of Happiness, The Blue Zones, and Thrive—all published by National Geographic books. Using original Blue Zones research, Blue Zones works with cities to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. Participating communities have experienced double digit drops in obesity and tobacco use and have saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs. For more information, visit

About Barry Community Foundation 
The Barry Community Foundation’s mission is to improve lives by bridging resources. This organization is dedicated to improving the lives of people in Barry County and brings together the resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support other local nonprofits, projects and community initiatives. Over the past 25 years it has become a trusted leader and resource, forging lasting relationships that inspire and empower our community to make a difference. The Foundation is positioned to be reactive in times of community need however it has also adopted a framework called the Seven Elements of a Healthy Community in which the community is divided into seven different sectors. This is a strategic approach where each sector is examined and decisions are made based on the assets our community currently has on hand. For more information, visit

“I am impressed with the local will and drive to make Barry County a better place to live, grow up, and grow old from the community leaders as well as local changemakers.”—Ben Leedle, CEO of Blue Zones