Urban Health Initiative

Urban Health Initiative Mission Statement:

UHI provides health disparities education and advocacy, builds collaborative partnerships and develops best practice models with underserved communities and those who work with them in Metropolitan Atlanta in order to advance equity in health and well-being.

This past semester, The Arts and Social Engagement group paired with Urban Health Initiative and filmmaker William Feagins in a project to improve the community through their work. They were also assisted by Dr. Carolyn Aidman, PHD and Dr. William Sexson, MD.Their goal was to increase education on nutrition and access to fresh produce in low socio-economic neighborhoods of Atlanta through their work at the Community Teaching Garden. The garden is located in low income, food desert area of North West Atlanta. Their project aims to teach community members how to grow their own food, to provide nutritional education, and to grow fresh produce from the garden.

Hagar Elsayed- Video Guru

Bria Goeller- Artist Liaison and Video Editor

Samantha Goodman- UHI Liaison

Jordan Hesslein – UHI Liaison

Hannah Higgins – UHI Liaison

Justin Lee – UHI Liaison

Hangyul Song – Group Organizer

Leila Yavari – Video Guru

Throughout their project, members of the Arts and Social Engagement team interviewed various people involved in their project and involved with UHI.

The Urban Health Initiative’s Goal is to connect community with academia, to provide an opportunity for learners both in a school setting or in the community to get more knowledge about social determinants of health, to apply that knowledge and then to also work together with community students to make a positive change.”

Co- Director of Urban Health Initiative Dr. Charles Moore when asked about UHI’s goals

Charles E. Moore, MD is an associate professor of Otolaryngology at Emory University School of Medicine, co-director of the Emory Urban Health Initiative, and chief of service in the Department of Otolaryngology at Grady Health System. Dr. Moore is also the founder and co-editor of the International Journal of Medical Volunteerism.

An Interview with UHI

Dr. Charles Moore, associate professor of Otolaryngology at Emory University School of Medicine and co-director of UHI, says:

“The Urban Health Initiative’s goal is to connect communities with academia, to provide an opportunity for learners, both in a school setting and in the community, to gain more knowledge about social determinants of health, to apply that knowledge, and to work together with community students to make a positive change.”

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Interviewing Dr. Sexson

Dr. William Sexson:

“Many of the things we do relate to things that exist or that we are able to do in the garden or the community garden setting. Part of the reason we do that is because the garden is good for teaching about obesity and obesity-related diseases. The other really important thing is that because we have one of the few teaching gardens in the country, we can teach parents and families in a safe environment.”

Dr. Carolyn Aidman:

“Our teaching gardens, our container programs, our medical education programs, our community involvement are all being developed into models that can be put into tool kits and spread across the country. We are an educational institution, above all, as Emory University.”

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Samantha Goodman with Dr. Aidman at the NICU

UHI: Student Reflections

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(From left) Justin Lee, Hannah Higgins, Leila Yavari, Samantha Goodman

Samantha Goodman: “It was neat to get hands-on experience working with the passionate group that is UHI. From the beginning, I was extremely impressed by the array and variety of UHI’s initiatives. They are tackling so many different urban health problems just here in Atlanta. It was an important reminder that we do not necessarily have to travel far to make a difference, as there is so much to do right beyond the Emory gates. I hope that our work with Will Feagins sheds even a little bit of light on the awesome work UHI does — from the rolling suitcase drive to the community teaching garden.”

Bria Goeller: “This was a wonderful learning experience. Being in consistent contact with a professional artist and working towards a tangible goal helped me gain insight into the world of art after college.”

Hannah Higgins: “Working with Dr. Sexson and UHI was a great experience, especially when we actually got to go to Emory Midtown.”

UHI: Atlanta Food Deserts

Food deserts are areas in which there is at least a 20 percent poverty rate and in which at least a third of residents live a mile from a grocery store. Food deserts in the city include the neighborhoods near Turner Field, downtown Atlanta, and Sweet Auburn.  Residents of food deserts lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lowfat milk, and other foods that make up a healthy diet.

Food Desert
Map of Atlanta Food Deserts