By April 28, 2022May 5th, 2022No Comments

Fort Worth is the largest certified Blue Zones Community® in the country. Each month we talk to a different member of our community and find out how they experience well-being in their neighborhood. This month’s featured guest is Dr. Becky Garner, Clinical Associate Professor and Bachelor of Science Public Health Program Director at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Q: You definitely model the Blue Zones Power 9 principle of Family First –– in fact, the business you developed to serve children with physical disabilities was all about family.

A: Our son Tyler was born with spina bifida –– he had partial paralysis of most of his body with no sensation below the knees.  I wanted him to do everything he was capable of and wanted to try.

Q: So you and your husband Doug Garner created a multi-sport center to meet the needs of people like Tyler?

A: Tyler had an atypical upbringing, compared to most kids with spina bifida. There aren’t a lot of kids in wheelchairs competing in triathlons. We knew he needed access to an adapted sports program so we created one and, along the way, we learned how to advocate for him. And we grew the sports center into a seven-day a week place where kids could do gymnastics, cheer, swim, and play on the indoor accessible playground.

Q: Your son got a scholarship to the University of Texas at Arlington, which brought you here to the Metroplex.

A: Tyler got a full ride scholarship to play wheelchair basketball on UTA’s team. And I fell in love with UTA. When I came here, I hadn’t worked for anyone else in 26 years, so working at the university was eye-opening and has been the most tremendous learning opportunity of my life.

Q: You started working at UTA and then you joined both Tyler and your husband in the Maverick family.

A: I went from being the parent of an undergraduate student, to working my first job there as an administrative assistant, to getting my master’s degree and then my DrPH degree.

Q: And you found your Blue Zones sense of Purpose –– one of the Power 9 principles that can add years to your life ­­­­­­–– first in the Kinesiology program, and then as the creator of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) Program.

A: After working with children, I wasn’t sure if I’d like teaching adults, but what an amazing transition it’s been!  I was in the right place at the right time.

Q: You’re exceptionally passionate about the public health program, and public health in general.

A: I knew that the shortage in public health workers was coming due to people aging out of the workforce. UTA is well-positioned to train the next generation of the public health workforce, one that is more aligned with the diverse demographics of Texas communities.

Q: Tell us about the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training you participated in recently.

A:  Students have been stressed and stretched by the pandemic, losing jobs and family members, and being sick with COVID. The training provided me with the communication skills and resources to better support my students, program and the university community.

Q: And you were so passionate about this that you partnered with North Texas Healthy Communities (a community health arm of Texas Health Resources that implements Blue Zones Project) to offer the training to your students during National Public Health Week?

A:  The staff provided such a positive workshop for our senior BS Public Health students, as well as some staff members here at UTA. After the workshop, several students shared that they truly appreciated the opportunity to participate.

Q: Talk a little about your belief in Moving More, another of the Power 9 principles that enhance longevity.

A: Exercise is medicine. I’ve known it my whole life, but I really realized it during the pandemic. Exercise can help maintain our physical and mental health.

Q: You preach about creating a time management plan to your students as well?

A: You absolutely must create time in your schedule to exercise, just like you have to plan to study. I found that exercise can be scheduled throughout the day in small five- or 10-minute segments. With planning, those short bursts of exercise can add up and help improve our overall health and outlook!


For more information about Blue Zones Project, visit LiveLongFortWorth.com