/ Modified sep 27, 2016 9:55 a.m.

Ajo to Fight Chronic Disease, on Two Wheels

A project is sending the town community bicycles to promote public health.

Bob Lindberg

The town of Ajo in western Pima County is getting a special delivery of 48 bicycles on Tuesday, part of a project to promote public health.

"This is to help prevent chronic disease such as diabetes, which we have a really high rate of in our town," said Lily Williams, who works with Ajo’s Desert Senita Community Health Center.

Ajo Middle School is set to receive 36 bikes, which will be integrated into the school's curriculum, Williams said.

"They’ll be used year round and year after year."

Funding for those bikes, repair equipment and supplies is coming from the federal Transportation Alternatives Program and Pima County. A few weeks ago, the team also delivered 600 helmets to the school, which students will get to keep.

A dozen bikes will be given to the Desert Senita Community Health Center thanks to a grant from the Arizona Planning Association's Plan4Health Program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We’re wanting to get the community to ride so if someone doesn’t have a bike they’ll be there for use," said WIlliams.

The delivery is the result of a 10-year relationship between Pima County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program and the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Other primary partners are the American Planning Association, the Arizona Alliance of Community Health Centers, the Arizona Planning Association, the UA Department of Mexican American Studies and Desert Senita Community Health Center.

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