Texas Christian University, Tarrant County College, and Texas Wesleyan University all joined the Blue Zones Project movement as Blue Zones Project Approved™ worksites. But their well-being initiatives extend far beyond the workplace, benefitting thousands of area students.
It’s not surprising that all three Fort Worth institutions of higher learning readily joined the Blue Zones Project movement. After all, Texas Christian University, Tarrant County College, and Texas Wesleyan University have always been committed to the health and well-being of faculty, staff, and students. As a result, TCU, Texas Wesleyan and all five TCC campuses became Blue Zones Project Approved™ worksites.
But the colleges didn’t stop there. Blue Zones principles and best practices have been incorporated into many of their respective degree programs, curriculums, and environment, thus planting the seeds for a healthier future for thousands of students.
At TCU, nutrition students partnered with Blue Zones Project to develop and lead healthy-store tours at approved area grocery stores. Students from TCU’s Nutrition and Dietetics Program walk customers through local Tom Thumb and Albertsons stores, sharing information on how to make better shopping decisions, insights into a healthy diet, and the benefits of fresh produce, legumes, whole grains, and healthier choices within the store. The tours often include free samples of Blue Zones-inspired deli items. The program continues and is being expanded to community centers and faith-based organizations.
At TCC, Purpose Workshops were offered to help students identify their passions and gifts for better charting their futures. Bill McMullen, director of student financial-aid services at Tarrant County College’s Trinity River Campus, had attended a workshop through his church. He found it so inspiring, he worked to bring the program to TCC students. “After the first five minutes, I was hooked,” Bill recalled. “I immediately knew the students I work with needed to hear this information.” The campus ended up hosted workshops for 108 students who were in danger of losing scholarships and financial aid due to failing grades. Bill said the workshops provided “a purpose to light a fire under them” and was a major factor in some TCC students improving their grades and remaining in school.
Texas Wesleyan was the first university in Fort Worth to become an approved worksite. While many efforts were for the benefit of faculty and staff, many more best practices were implemented that provided holistic well-being across campus, positively impacting the school’s 2,000+ students. Blue Zones Project signage on campus, highlighted walking paths, and a full library display of Dan Buettner’s books helped create awareness for Blue Zones principles among students. Additionally, healthier menu selections, more vegetables, grilled options, and a salad bar were added at the campus’s main dining hall. The cafeteria’s Healthy for Life 20x20 initiative aims to reduce calories, saturated fats, and sodium levels by 20 percent while increasing fruit, vegetables, and whole grains by 20 percent.