The Plan4Health coalition in Ajo, Arizona, is working hard not only to make bicycling an option for transportation, physical activity, and leisure, but also to reinvigorate a sense of active living through the community’s deep connection to their surroundings.
Ajo is an outpost in the southwestern part of Arizona — only about 40 miles from the U.S. border with Mexico. The copper mine that was long a presence in the community closed in the 1980s; as a result, many jobs were lost and people left in search of employment in more urban parts of the state.
Ajo has been featured in a handful of articles in The Atlantic as an example of a revitalized community: “Ajo, Arizona: A Small Town Pushed to the Brink, and Coming Back,” “Ajo, Arizona: Oasis in the Desert,” and “Growing Up in Ajo.” Despite recent reinvestment and the growing art community, Ajo still faces high rates of unemployment, poverty, and health disparities.
The Plan4Health coalition’s goals are to create a sustainable cycling hub that provides education on bicycle safety for recreation and transportation; trains local community members on bicycle repair, provides resources for bicycle repair and maintenance, certifies community members as League-Certified Cycling Instructors, and builds health-based partnerships with local Ajo organizations.
Members of the coalition and the community are beginning to tell stories about their connections to active living. The first few digital stories are available to watch now and more will be released in the coming months.
Keep an eye out on the Plan4Health Peer Learning Network for more footage of Ajo as well as other Plan4Health coalitions.
Photos taken by Plan4Health staff in April 2016 – pictured are a view from the historic plaza (above) and the Ajo Plan4Health coalition in front of the Desert Senita Community Health Center (right).