Urban Health Initiative Group

UHI’s Final Project:


Urban Health Initiative educates about issues of health disparity, advocates for change, builds collaborative partnerships, and develops the best practice models for under-served communities in Metropolitan Atlanta to advance equity in health and well-being.

The Arts and Social Engagement group worked with William Feagins (Filmmaker), Dr. Carolyn Aidman (Associate Director of UHI), and Dr. William Sexson (Senior Advisor of UHI). Their goal was to increase education on nutrition and provide access to fresh produce in low socioeconomic neighborhoods of Atlanta through their work at the Community Teaching Garden.

The Team:

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


Feagins joined the project because it aligned with his passion for sharing the stories of everyday people.

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


Samantha Goodman with Dr. Aidman at the NICU


An interview with Dr. 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. William Sexson

“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.” – Dr. Carolyn Aidman


“This is the Seeds of Change Mural… This was taken as we were crashing the Super Giant Garden and morphing it into 2 other gardens.”  – Dr. Aidman

Map of 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.



Community Garden Members


A sign at UHI


Hannah Higgins


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

“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.” – Bria Goeller

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