Children who attend Seagull Schools in Kapolei have a special bond with seniors at Seagulls Adult Day Center, located next door. Not only do the kūpuna and keiki regularly meet to play bingo, exercise on the lawn and do arts and crafts, but they also dine together on lunches that include whole grains, lean proteins and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
“The Kapolei school and adult center were purposely designed for mutually beneficial interaction between kūpuna and keiki,” says Chuck Larson, executive director for Seagull Schools, which has five locations on O‘ahu and one on Hawai‘i Island. “It has drawn attention from countries around the world seeking to develop strategies for their aging populations.” Spending time with energetic children does wonders for seniors’ mental health and cognitive skills, he adds.
Promoting good health is a top priority for Seagull Schools, which has been approved by the Blue Zones Project — a nationwide wellness program to enhance communities through proper nutrition, natural exercise, social interaction, spirituality and other healthy habits.
HMSA brought the initiative to Hawai’i to lower healthcare costs and improve quality of life. As of this writing in December, Blue Zones had eight demonstration communities: North Hawai‘i, East Hawai‘i, West Hawai‘i/Hawai‘i County, Central Maui, Ko‘olaupoko, Wahiawa¯, Kapolei-Ewa and Mānoa-Makiki-McCully-Mō‘ili‘ili.
Seagull campuses serve all-vegetarian meals on Wednesdays, and sugary, processed foods are banned. To circulate fresh air, there are ceiling fans, open windows and no air-conditioning.
“Blue Zones is a lifestyle practice for adults to set the stage for children,” Larson says.
Blue Zones Diet: What to eat
- Up to 95 percent of your food should be greens, grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Use olive oil and spices to flavor vegetables.
- If you eat meat, limit portions to a deck of cards. Avoid hot dogs, bacon and sausages. Avoid seafood with high levels of mercury and other toxins.
- Avoid cow’s milk. Eat cheeses (sparingly) made of sheep or goat’s milk. Limit eggs to three times weekly.
- Eat one cup of beans, plus tofu, spread across the day. Avoid canned beans with added salt, sugar and chemicals.
- Eat less than 28 grams, or 7 teaspoons, of added sugar daily.
- Snack on nuts daily (non-sugar, non-salted).
- Avoid white breads. Eat 100 percent whole-grain breads or pure sourdough bread made with live cultures. Limit to two slices daily.
- Avoid processed foods; eat whole foods and dishes with fewer than five ingredients.
- Drink at least six glasses of water daily.
BLUE ZONES PROJECT
SEAGULLS SCHOOLS ADULT DAY CENTER