The Senior Center has been a fantastic partner with Blue Zones Project (BZP). BZP began talking with Director, Brian Berry, early in the project. However, programming for seniors was limited during the early stages of the pandemic.
As soon as it was safe, BZP Public Policy Advocate, Emily Brown, connected with Berry to start a community garden at the center and Engagement Lead, Rebecca Thorpe, spoke to board members about Blue Zones Project activities and principles.
Alex Sanchez, Adult Day Center (ADC) Program Manager at the Senior Center became very involved in helping make the Senior Center Garden a success. He supported the ADC members as they volunteered to create and maintain the garden. This past summer, the herbs and vegetables from the garden were used as ingredients in meals served by the Senior Center. Alex’s passion for helping older adults be active, participate in activities that stimulate their memories, and consume healthy fruits and vegetables is shown clearly through his dedication to his ADC members and their well-being.
Meanwhile, Berry was busy working with his Senior Center board, staff, and members to become a Blue Zones Project Approved Organization which included offering healthy cooking classes and Purpose Workshops. Berry also connected with the City of Walla Walla’s Angela Potts to provide healthy programs for seniors including M.E.L.T., Qi Gong, and even Laughter Yoga classes. In addition, they have partnered with BZP for our Address the Stress campaign and continue to provide opportunities for members to learn about how to finish their stress cycles to alleviate chronic stress. Finally, a Walking Moai was launched and was a great success getting people moving and socializing. They will continue the program each spring when the weather is better. They are also ambitiously working on creating more activities for seniors and their staff for the future.
Berry is a visionary, and he sees the writing on the wall. He knows the next generation of elders are more active and health-minded and wants to get ahead and begin providing meaningful activities for those who are present now and for those to come. Partnering with BZP gave him the bandwidth and support he needed to begin planning and programming these kinds of activities.