Ricky Cotto lives and works in Fort Worth Texas. In 2014, he joined Blue Zones Project Fort Worth team as the Neighborhoods Team Manager and later transitioned to Faith based Manager. In 2018, the City of Fort Worth achieved Blue Zones designation becoming the largest, most diverse Blue Zones community in the US. In 2019, Ricky joined the “Phase 2” team with Texas Health Resources as Director of Community Engagement (NTHC); to continue the great work of making the healthy choice the easy choice. He received his undergrad degree from the University of North Texas and a M.A. in Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. Read our interview with Ricky Cotto below:
For those that aren’t yet familiar with Blue Zones Project, how would you best summarize it?
Blue Zones Project is a well-being improvement initiative for the entire community. It’s about making healthy choices easier in the places we spend the most time—where we live, learn, work, play, and pray. This isn’t a typical diet-and-exercise approach to better health; Blue Zones Project optimizes the environment to support longer, better lives. To achieve this outcome, the initiative brings together worksites, restaurants, grocery stores, schools, faith-based organizations, neighborhoods, and community leaders to implement proven practices for better well-being.
Can you please tell us about your role with Blue Zones Project?
I joined Blue Zones Project, Fort Worth more than five years ago. I began by working with and supporting faith-based organizations in efforts to improve well-being for their congregants. And I helped neighborhood associations bring Blue Zones Project principles to life for their residents. Late last year, after Fort Worth earned certification as a Blue Zones Community, and I transitioned to the position of director of community engagement as we support our approved organizations and continue to expand our efforts.
If asked what’s next for Fort Worth: I can’t speak to exact next steps for our community, as we have a Steering Committee that will make those decisions. I can tell you that Fort Worth leaders and residents have demonstrated that they are committed and will continue to work to make Fort Worth one of the healthiest cities in the country.
What are you most excited about Blue Zones Project launch in Salinas?
It’s exciting to see new communities recognize the value of focusing on well-being. In Fort Worth, we have become a healthier, more active place, where people have stronger social connections and a greater sense of community pride. When another city joins the Blue Zones Project movement and begins working toward its own great results, we all take another step toward reversing the trend of chronic illness and disease that has affected our entire country. Community by community, we are turning the tide.
How can the community get involved with Blue Zones Project?
Better well-being is truly a community effort, and Blue Zones Project offers many ways for people of all walks of life to get involved. Individuals and families can incorporate Blue Zones Project’s Power 9 principles into their daily lives. These are nine habits shared by the world’s longest living people—such as moving naturally, finding routines to shed stress, and having a “plant slant” diet. Blue Zones Project will host events throughout Monterey County to educate residents about these principles and encourage them to cook smarter, eat healthier, move more, volunteer, and find purpose. Blue Zones Project will also work with grocery stores, restaurants, worksites, schools, churches, and community groups to help them implement practices that support well-being. If you are connected to one of those organizations, we encourage you to visit the Blue Zones Project website and learn about becoming Blue Zones Project Approved.
From your previous experience with other Blue Zones Project program launches, what are some of the key success factors we should aim for?
Each community is unique in its priorities and what determines success. Goals could include improved access to healthy foods, more trails and sidewalks, or policies that help reduce smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, among other areas of focus. The local Blue Zones Project team is working closely with community leaders, businesses, organizations, and residents to determine what efforts will have the strongest impact in Monterey County and creating a plan for achieving those results.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with my audience at Latino Edge?
You have a strong Blue Zones Project team here in Monterey County and sponsors passionate about improving public health and well-being. But it is really engaged residents, volunteers, and local businesses and organizations driving this project. And getting involved is easy. Blue Zones Project isn’t about following the latest fad diet or extreme exercising. It’s about simple steps we can all take to support longevity and a more rewarding life. To learn more, visit montereycounty.bluezonesproject.com.
Ricky will be delivering the Blue Zones presentation this Saturday, June 29th in Spanish at 3:00pm!
Blue Zones Project Monterey County Kickoff offers an opportunity for attendees to experience how living in a Blue Zones Project community feels and through these activities engage them in being a part of the transformation. Participants will hear from Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner, who will share the Blue Zones story and encourage community members to participate in one or more of the many Blue Zones Project areas: Worksites, Schools, Policy, Moais, Walking School Bus, Purpose Workshop and Volunteering.
Event: Blue Zones Project Monterey County Kickoff
Date: Saturday, June 29, 2019
Time: 1:00pm to 4:30pm
Where: Sherwood Hall
940 North Main Street
Salinas, CA 93901
Speaker: Dan Buettner, New York Times Best-Selling Author of
The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People
For more information and to RSVP for the Kickoff Event: