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Blue Zones Project launches to make Jacksonville a healthier place to live

The goal is to focus on making the city a better place to live, raise the life expectancy and fix health disparities.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville is now on its way to becoming a healthier place to live.

The Blue Zones Project was launched Thursday in Jacksonville by local hospitals and nonprofits, initiated by Baptist Health. It’s goal is to focus on making the city a better place to live, raise the life expectancy and fix health disparities.

The market president of Florida Blue says a compilation of data by LIFT JAX reveals a large disparity in life expectancy depending on where you live in Jacksonville. Darnell Smith says on average, people in Ortega live 13 years longer than those in Durkeeville and that's only a difference of eight miles.

The CEO of Baptist Health, Michael Mayo, says changes in policies will be some of the first things people should expect to see.

"A lot of this starts with policy because things that have to do with bike lanes and parks and lighting, those have to come out of policy, city council, and the government," Mayo said. "The project will also approach different grocers and different people that can bring food to communities that they may be in a food desert."

In a California beach town Blue Zones states they helped lower childhood obesity rate by 55 percent.

The Blue Zones project will focus on west, north and east Jacksonville. The "blue print" phase will last nine months and the project will last five years. At the end, Jacksonville will become a Blue Zone.

Those involved say there will be volunteer and work opportunities. Learn more about how to get involved here.

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