Much of what we do in public health depends on the system seeking out “leverage” meaning designing interventions that have high impact with minimal cost.  Malena Bazurto and the Apache County Health District recently won a national award for her creative idea incorporating leverage.  Malena noticed that St. John’s had little walk-able space for folks to get healthy outdoor exercise.  But she had a great idea.

She and the Apache County Health District created a Safe Routes to Schools Development team in St. Johns, Az.  With support from the Apache County Board of Supervisors and the District School Board and a very modest amount of funding from the preventive health services block grant, she put together a partnership to apply for funding for development of safe walking and biking routes to schools.

With some creative thinking and a PC, they applied for and received a $350K infrastructure and implementation grant from the Arizona Department of Transportation. The walking route will connect the schools, library, park, community college, Chamber of Commerce and other public venues in the community. The program has led the way with collaboration of government, volunteers and private business and has leveraged their resources to generate additional funding for a successful walking school bus program including maintenance of the walking /biking areas funded by the Safe Routes to School Program grant.