In March of 2016, a group from the Waikoloa Senior Club learned about Blue Zones Project and decided to get moving by creating a Walking Moai — a group that meets to walk at least once a week for 10 weeks. Today, nearly two years later, the group is still together and calls themselves the “Waikoloa Wanderers.”
The word “moai” comes from Okinawa, Japan and means “meeting for a common purpose.” Blue Zones Project adopted the term and created Moai Walking Teams to provide social interaction and support, which are just as important as the physical exercise community members get during their walk.
Almost two years ago, a small group of eight people gathered at Ho‘oko Park at 5 p.m. and took a leisurely stroll. Since then, a core group of four has continued walking on a weekly basis and has made a bunch of new friends. The Waikoloa Wanderers average 4,000 steps each week during an hour of walking, chatting and building friendships.
The Waikoloa Wanderers volunteering at the Nourish Your Neighbor Thanksgiving Lunch in 2016.
These small groups have totaled over 60 people over the past 21 months. Starting with a brief 30-minute walk last year, they now last up to an hour and a half and end with ohana time at the swimming pool. The group walks together, has gatherings with their families together, and even volunteers together.
Vicki Coronel and Peter Haynes (in white hats below) wanted to get involved after moving to the area in 2016. “Joining the Waikoloa Wanderers Moai provided us the opportunity to meet people in the village and become integrated into the community. It is a great group of people.” Since joining the Walking Moai, they have become integral leaders in the community and have chaired the Health Fair and the Waikoloa Literacy Run, one of the largest events in the area.
Another Moai leader, Marjorie Mrasek (far right, below), excitedly shares her story, “Our Waikoloa Wanderers have made a great difference in my life! Two things come right to mind: I have gotten to know some very nice people in a special way and I am really feeling so much better about myself having taken the better part of an hour to get out and move my body! The friends I have made through Blue Zones Project share a common appreciation for the importance of BP goals and ideals. I enjoy sharing what different things we are all trying with our food and health.”
Want to get involved with Blue Zones Project – Hawai‘i or join a Walking Moai? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Hawaii.bluezonesproject.com. Like us on Facebook (@bzphawaii) and Instagram (@bzphawaii) too!
Ashley Takitani Leahey is the statewide engagement lead for Blue Zones Project – Hawaii. Born and raised on Maui, Ashley is passionate about her island home. When she’s not volunteering and giving back to her community, Ashley loves to be outdoors – gardening, practicing yoga, and spending time with her chocolate Labrador. See more Blue Zones Project – Hawaii updates @BZPHawaii.