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BLUE ZONES: Moai gives back to community

December 2, 2017 GMT

Last April, community members accepted an invitation to attend something new called a Walking Moai with Blue Zones Project.

Moai is a term from Okinawa, Japan, one of the original Blue Zones areas, that roughly means meeting for a common purpose.

Those who came left that chilly spring morning as a new walking group that committed to meeting for 10 weeks. In Juneau, a group of six individuals came together and aptly called their new Moai, “Walking for 10.” The group committed to meeting twice a week in the early morning to walk for one hour on an out-and-back trail. The Moai grew from six to nine to 11 as members told others about the group and invited them to join. Their commitment to one another extended a second set of 10 weeks, then a third set, and so it continued.

Some from the Walking Moai decided to start a Potluck Moai, enjoying plant-based meals together and inviting more people to join them as well. The Walking for 10 Moai became a community of like-minded people who wanted to support one another in making healthy choices, easier. They became a community and through that community, they were inspired to give back during this holiday season.

Marianne Zastrow, one of the original Walking for 10 Moai members, regularly volunteers at Clearview Nursing & Rehabilitation Facility in Juneau. With the annual Clearview Holiday Bazaar approaching, Zastrow was looking for a way to give back during the holiday season. She decided to help not only the residents of Clearview, but the entire community that attended the Holiday Bazaar by offering healthy snack options for purchase. The money earned through sales, Zastrow decided, should be donated to Project Merry Christmas, which ensures that all residents of Clearview Nursing & Rehabilitation home receive a gift at Christmas.

Zastorw’s Moai did what Moais do: They supported her healthy and charitable choice and contributed healthy snacks to sell at the bazaar. The healthy snacks included peanut butter energy bites, fresh fruit, homemade dried pineapple, kiwi, apples and bananas, homemade fruit leather, muffins and popcorn. All items were priced competitively compared to the holiday treats sold at other booths. Members of the Walking for 10 Moai also volunteered to work the booth during the day-and-a-half event.

Together, the group made the healthy choice available to holiday shoppers and event attendees. Through sales and donations, they raised nearly $100 to contribute to Project Merry Christmas, which will use the funds to purchase gifts for at least four Clearview residents.

“It’s a good thing that no one is forgotten,” Zastrow said. “Some of them don’t have family left anymore.”

In Okinawa, Moais have helped to create strong, healthy and committed social networks for thousands of years. In Dodge County, Blue Zones Project is helping people find their own social group of people committed to seeking better health. The Walking for 10 Moai, through their commitment to one another, have improved not only their own health, but also the well-being of the community.

To learn more about Blue Zones Project visit dodgecounty.bluezonesproject.com. If interested in joining a Moai, call 920-212 or email bluezonesprojectdodgecounty@sharecare.com.