“Columbus could become a Blue Zone”: Community members brainstorm health initiatives

COLUMBUS, Neb. - A community in central Nebraska is brainstorming a healthier future.

"Coming out of this pandemic, this concept of well-being has never been more critical," said Vice President of Blue Zones Project Dan Buettner.

A timely health initiative in Columbus.

"Communities that are looking for a comeback story out of this pandemic that attacks underlying well-being and boosts it," said Buettner. 

Columbus Community Hospital hosted Blue Zones on Tuesday.

It is an organization that partners with communities wanting to provide a healthier lifestyle.

"That connected with what we're trying to do," said Dr. Luke Lemke, chairman on the Platte County Lifestyle Coalition. "So it seemed kind of like a little dream to say maybe Columbus could become a Blue Zone."

If Columbus was a Blue Zone, the city would work with reps to establish a plan customized specifically for its people. Though this would be the first in Nebraska, Blue Zones are in over 60 cities across the country.

"Blue Zones goes where we're asked," said Buettner.

Over 75 community members came out to discuss the possibility of a partnership, but next steps will only be taken if community leaders are on board.

"Maybe we'll do a few initiatives and see if that works and get the critical mass that we need in those areas and then take it to the next step," said Dr. Lemke.

Columbus Physician, Dr. Lemke said the initiative goes beyond eating healthy and staying active.

"Talking about community involvement, belonging to a faith-based group and just trying to connect people on an interpersonal level," said Dr. Lemke.

Something Dr. Lemke said aligns with Nebraska's values.

"We don't stay here because it's got great mountains, it's got this beautiful beach, we come here for the people," said Dr. Lemke.

A survey was given at the end of the presentation to help gather feedback on whether or not Blue Zones will partner with Columbus.