Local Elementary School Promotes Healthy Living With Blue Zone Approval

Monday November 20, 2023

McKinley Elementary School has become Bakersfield’s first ever Blue Zones Project Approved™ school. The Blue Zones Project is a community wellness initiative that inspires healthy lifestyles by making positive changes to a city’s environment and policy.  

A school can receive a Blue Zone designation when it implements positive, healthy choices for children. McKinley has maintained a school garden, introduced Walking School Bus events, provided invaluable nutrition education, and implemented mindfulness programs. The school also added personalized posters to the cafeteria to encourage healthier food choices.

Bakersfield’s Blue Zones Project, sponsored by Adventist Health, partnered with the City of Bakersfield and the California Resources Corporation to promote healthy living across our community. 

“You are setting the example of what it means to be bright, ambitious, and healthy and to live healthy lives. You are the model for all of us,” said Bakersfield City Councilman Andre Gonzales.

Bakersfield City Councilman Andre Gonzales poses with McKinley Elementary School students.

The Blue Zones Project works with cities around the world to implement policies and programs that will create healthier, thriving communities. According to research, people living in so-called Blue Zones are found to live longer lives with lower rates of chronic disease. Kiyoshi Tomono, executive director with the Blue Zones project, says making small sustainable lifestyle choices early in a child’s life can set them up for success and a healthier future.

“Those make the differences over the lifetime of eating healthier, a little bit every day is what’s going to get you to that longevity,” he said.

Tomono says the Blue Zones Project is looking to add more healthy initiatives to McKinley, including a new walking track and a cooking program that teaches children the basics of creating healthy meals. He says more schools in Bakersfield are set to be approved by the Blue Zones Project soon.

McKinley Elementary is not just a place of academic growth but a haven that promotes the overall well-being of our community.”

To celebrate becoming the first ever Blue Zone school in Bakersfield, McKinley Elementary added a new book vending machine to its library. Kids who do well in their classes, or go above and beyond, will be able to pick out a new book for free. 

By Katie Avery

By Katie Avery

Katie Avery joined the Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2023 as a Communications Specialist. As a former journalist and marketing professional, her passions include media and storytelling. Before joining KCSOS, Avery worked for various local TV stations as well as the health care industry.