Central Florida Communities Compete for Vitality City Designation

Leaders of the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) and Florida Hospital gathered mayors of Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville, and key representatives of other local communities and diverse organizations on June 9 to make a pitch to establish the Central Florida Vitality Zone and be designated the first “Healthways/Blue Zones Vitality City” in the country.

There are three communities—Asheville, NC; a group of Central Florida communities including Winter Park, Maitland, Eatonville, College Park and Baldwin Park; and the Beach Cities in Southern California—in the running to get the Vitality City designation. The Central Florida cities refer to their group as the Central Florida Vitality Zone.

The Vitality City selection committee came to Winter Park on June 9 and spent the day  talking about the Vitality City program, meeting with local leaders and taking a bus tour of all five Central Florida Vitality Zone communities to get a first hand look at community strengths and needs. Committee members represented Healthways, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC.

Committee members are examining “motivation, readiness and general commitment to the project” as they visit the three finalist communities, said Justin Smith, co-director of the Healthways-Blue Zones Vitality Quest in an interview with the Winter Park/ Maitland Observer.  

If selected, the Central Florida communities receive support and guidance from the two companies in an effort to help the communities make long-term, sustainable environmental and policy changes that make it possible for people to live longer, happier lives. The program is designed to engage all members of the communities—employers, schools, restaurants, government, community groups as well as residents.

The designation would help the Foundation build on and expand the many programs it already has in place to improve community health by changing the environment, said Patty Maddox, WPHF President & CEO. These include the WPHF’s Think~Act~Be Healthy Communities initiative and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ACHIEVE (Action Communities for Health, Innovation and EnVironmental ChangE), initiative which has been launched locally through WPHF.

A decision on the Vitality City designation is expected in July.

To view a copy of the Central Florida Vitality Zone response to the Healthways/Blue Zones RFP, please visit www.CentralFloridaVitalityZone.com.