Konocti Unified School District Embarks on Blue Zones Worksite Transformation Journey With Launch Event

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 16, 2024 

CONTACT: Lauren Nelson, Blue Zones Communications
562-685-6947 |  [email protected]

Becky Salato, KUSD Superintendent
(707) 994-6475 | [email protected] 

Clear Lake, CA — Last week, Konocti Unified School District (KUSD) and Blue Zones, LLC celebrated the launch of the school district’s commitment to a transformative well-being journey to improve the health and happiness of their employees. Over the next three years, KUSD will implement a comprehensive well-being strategy designed to achieve Blue Zones Worksite Certification. This makes KUSD the first school district to embark on this journey.

In the Worksite Certification model, Blue Zones works with employers to optimize working environments and sharpen policies so healthier choices are easier for their employees. KUSD Superintendent Becky Salato expressed her desire to empower her employees: “I’m so excited to leverage this innovative opportunity to enhance our workplace so that every employee feels a change in their own life – whether it’s caring for their mental health, taking time to move more, or finding new ways to nurture work-life balance. This transformation will not only impact our teams but will also positively impact our students, our families, and ripple throughout our entire community.”

KUSD is receiving support from national Blue Zones worksite experts to implement a comprehensive, evidence-based plan for improving employee well-being. Blue Zones is the nationally recognized leader in well-being transformation, and its Worksite Certification model draws upon 20 years of experience in community and longevity science to empower organizations to cultivate thriving work environments. The rigorous, multi-year commitment integrates the Blue Zones approach into the organization’s culture, aligning people, spaces, and policies to foster lasting change.

The Blue Zones Approach

Blue Zones focuses on creating surroundings and systems that default to healthier behaviors. The model is rooted in lessons learned from the world’s healthiest, longest-lived cultures in the original blue zones regions, where residents make healthy choices because those choices are easy—even unavoidable—in their surroundings. 

To celebrate the launch of their workplace transformation, KUSD and Blue Zones celebrated with an all-employee interactive kickoff event – called Explore the Power 9 – on Thursday, February 8. 

Held in the Lower Lake High School gym, the event highlighted opportunities available to all KUSD employees to boost their well-being at home and at school through the various Power 9 principles –lifestyle habits from the world’s blue zones regions. In the “Move Naturally” station, colleagues were inspired to incorporate movement throughout their workday and embrace their inner children with hop-scotch. A “Connect” area reminded colleagues of the energizing effects of joy and laughter with fun activities including a photo booth. Blue Zones-inspired food dishes, provided by the local Blue Zones-inspired restaurant, Rosey Cooks, demonstrated how employees can incorporate more plant-based options into their meals.

During the presentation, guest speaker Margaret Brown, Blue Zones’ Vice President of Business Development, spoke about the three-phased approach that will guide KUSD’s journey. This approach focuses on people, places, and policy to tailor a blueprint for sustainable change. She emphasized KUSD’s recent diligent work with the Blue Zones worksite team and some of the best practices KUSD will implement to meet certification standards, including:

Transform campus environments: Creating and mapping outdoor walking paths for each campus to encourage moving naturally, implementing breakroom initiatives to enhance private spaces for employees to downshift during the day, and other place-based optimizations.

Improve employee policies: Developing a core work hours policy so employees can disconnect from work and connect with their families, friends, and purpose when they are not at work. 

Strengthen Social Connections: Building community through moais (social support groups), employee recognition, and volunteer opportunities.

Enhanced well-being programming: Implementing purpose workshops; mental health, self-care, mindfulness training, and substance use prevention training.

Improved food environment: Providing affordable and nutritious options throughout the workday so it’s easy for employees to eat wisely.

Leadership development: Equipping leaders with skills to cultivate a thriving work environment.

Surrounded by board members and leaders, Salato signed the Blue Zones Worksite Certification Pledge, which signifies KUSD’s commitment to implement the strategies outlined in the blueprint.

Driven by a vision to create a healthier and more vibrant workplace, KUSD secured a grant specifically dedicated to employee well-being. The district will pursue Blue Zones Worksite Certification in addition to the student-focused work that they and other area school districts will participate in to become Blue Zones Project Approved Schools as part of Blue Zones Project – Lake County. 

“KUSD’s commitment to employee well-being through Blue Zones Worksite Certification beautifully complements the ongoing efforts of Blue Zones Project – Lake County. This synergy will demonstrate the power of collective action and further strengthen the positive ripple effect of Blue Zones principles throughout the County to create a healthier, happier community for us all,” said Shelly Trumbo, Blue Zones National Chief Transformations Officer and Lake County resident. “We’re grateful for the tremendous leadership and excitement of KUSD and look forward to celebrating improved well-being for KUSD and the entire community.”