10/14/17 – For the second time in one week, the ribbon was cut for a new participant in the Dodge County Blue Zones Project. Washington Elementary School in Beaver Dam has been recognized as the first Blue Zones Project-approved public school in Dodge County. Last spring, the school formed a Blue Zones Committee. Parent Dana Carnine says the goal was to look at what the school was doing for the health and well-being of students to see if there were ways to improve. Two of the innovative practices implemented by Washington Elementary, which focus on physical activity, are the annual Bulldog Fun Run fundraiser and the Bulldog Walking Club during lunchtime recess. In addition, they have integrated physical activity and nutrition education into daily lesson plans along with yoga and calming techniques for students in the classroom. Principal Laura Maron says relationship building, brain breaks, and mindfulness activities are part of what teachers do every day, so seeking a partnership with the Blue Zones Project initiative was a natural fit. Maron says the designation reflects the school’s commitment and focus on not only building a stronger and healthier community but also making well-being a priority for young learners to prepare them for a lifetime of better health. Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthier choices easier by encouraging simple changes to environment, policy, and social networks.