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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Arizona: Bike Ajo Program is Model for Rural Communities

A partnership meant to increase physical activity and prevent chronic disease has led to the creation of a community cycling center in Ajo, Arizona.

Like many rural communities across the country, Ajo has its challenges. Recent studies found that 71 percent of families in Ajo are living below the federal poverty line. Nearly half of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, a group that continues to experience significant chronic disease disparities such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Data from the Ajo Unified School District shows that each grade had an obesity rate of at least 32 percent, with sixth grade reaching an alarming 57 percent.

“The residents of Ajo have significant disparities due to multiple social determinants of health including a lack of access to opportunities for physical activity and other resources necessary to prevent chronic disease,” said Ms. Martha Monroy, program manager and lecturer in the Department of Health Promotion Sciences at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

Ms. Monroy and colleagues applied for the Arizona Planning Association’s Plan4Health grant and with a dedicated group of people, the Bike Ajo Coalition was formed. Today, the town has two bike hubs open to children and their families, one located at the Ajo Unified School District and the other based at Desert Senita Community Health Center.

Bike Ajo is so successful that the Desert Senita Community Health Center received the award for Excellence in Person Family Engagement from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for their leadership in Bike Ajo.

Read the full story about this award-winning community program.