Author(s): Eva Moore, MD, Mohamed Ali, MPH, Elinor Graham, MD, MPH, Linda Quan, MD

Date Authored: January 1, 2010

Article highlighted as ‘Local Acts’ in the January–February 2010, installment of Public Health Reports, the official journal of the U.S. Public Health Service. The article describes a creative intervention to improve physical activity among Somali immigrants in Seattle, Washington. Moore et al. describe how they designed a culturally sensitive intervention to foster swimming as a form of physical activity in this community by enhancing access to public pools and creating a social support network around the swim events.

Indoor swimming pool
Photo by John K Thorne (cc license).


Immigrants are the fastest-growing segment of the United States and represent 12.5% of the total population. Refugees are legal immigrants who flee for fear of persecution in their home countries. Somali refugees comprise the largest number of refugees entering the U.S. in recent years, with more than 40,000 admitted from 2003 to 2007.2,3 This article details a program in Seattle, Washington, in which collaboration among medical centers, community-based organizations, the local health department, municipal organizations, and leaders in the Somali community resulted in a culturally appropriate fitness option addressing the self-identified health needs of Somalis.

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