Get Happy

Fort Worth gets $5 million grant to improve happiness and longevity

Fort Worth gets $5 million grant to improve happiness and longevity

Sundance Square in Fort Worth
The Gallup well being index will measure Fort Worth residents' happiness levels now and in five years. Photo courtesy of Bamboo Leasing

Pharrell Williams isn't the only one cashing in on happiness these days. The City of Fort Worth is launching a new initiative to improve residents' longevity and overall well-being, and it just got a $5 million shot in the arm from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.

Dubbed the Blue Zones Project, the venture traces its roots to National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner's research of communities where people lived the longest and were the happiest.

 The project traces its roots to National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner's research of communities where people lived the longest and were the happiest.

Buettner and a team of anthropologists, epidemiologists and demographers have identified nine "blue zone" secrets of longevity that can be implemented in cities around the world.

"The energy brewing here in North Texas is fantastic, and the support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas will inspire other local businesses and organizations to become involved in the Project," Buettner said in a statement. "It is the perfect environment to create America's next Blue Zone."

In addition to Fort Worth, Blue Zone projects are active in Southern California, Iowa and Hawaii. The $5 million gift from Blue Cross Blue Shield Texas includes a $2.5 million "community catalyst grant" that will be matched dollar-for-dollar with community contributions.

Blue Zone has a number of backers in Cowtown, including the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and Texas Health Resources. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price wants her city to become one of the healthiest in the nation.

"Fort Worth is fortunate to have a business community that understands what it takes to make a difference and bring about real, positive change in our city,” Price said in a statement.

"Our friends at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas believe in the importance of healthy, active living — not just for our residents, but for our businesses as well. This generous donation and the community challenge lay the foundation which enables Fort Worth to work with Blue Zones Project to become one of the healthiest cities in the nation."

Fort Worth's happiness levels will be measured by Gallup's well-being index, which combines questions about one's current life situation with projections for how life will be five years into the future. A baseline survey will be conducted this year to be compared with results through the course of the five-year initiative.