Volunteer Spotlight: Tim Rupnarain


My name is Tim Rupnarain.  I was born in Paramaribo, Suriname but spent most of my life in the United States.  I have a strong passion for bringing people together with tea and have an unmatched love for Reggae music, Iranian film, art, poetry, and travel.  I am recent graduate from Emory University (Class of 2015) where I majored in Religion, focusing my studies and extracurriculars on community building and social change.  I joined the Urban Health Initiative in September 2015 and work with the Marketing and Community Outreach team. During my first two years in Atlanta, I observed the food insecurity issues in many areas of the city, in addition to the stark poverty and income disparities faced by a large majority of this city’s residents. I joined UHI in order to work with people who are as passionate as I am about affecting change in our local Atlanta communities by providing better access to food resources and education to residents so they can improve their lifestyles and behaviors.  My education at Emory taught me to learn and think more deeply about ethical frameworks, the importance of narrative, and broader outlooks on life through an exploration of art and my own moral imagination, ambiguity, and innate creativity.

As such, I came up with the idea of putting this blog together to capture narratives from our garden, the local community, and the UHI staff and volunteers. We seek to provide a voice to the voiceless. Through my work with local communities in Atlanta, I stand firm in my belief that the residents of this city deserve to have their unique stories heard.  We are ethnically, nationally and linguistically diverse; we are diverse in our personalities, and we are diverse in the details of our daily practices. Perhaps, most importantly, we are diverse in terms of our personal histories; each and every one of us who plays a unique role in our global community has a personal history that has helped shaped us and influences the lens through which we see the world. This is no less true of our community in Atlanta, which is made up of people from all corners of the earth, with diverse life experiences. We are a community made up of diverse and unique individuals: not only should we accept this, we should embrace our differences.  My greatest hope is that we are, together, able to embrace this reality of diversity through the countless narratives shared on this blog. My ultimate vision for the UHI is that we set a new standard of how we use our urban, green spaces to bring community together in a way that ethically employs progressive and transformative theological, sociological, and psychological understandings of community, Love, and unity.

Walk With A Doc

A New York Times article titled “Exercise as Potent Medicine” stated ‘Exercise can be as effective as many frequently prescribed drugs in treating some of the leading causes of death.’ This claim was made based off of a study published in the British Medical Journal in October of 2013. This comparative study evaluated the effectiveness of exercise versus drug intervention on mortality (secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehabilitation of stroke, treatment of heart failure, prevention of diabetes) using 339,247 participants. The results of this study lead to the conclusion further asserted by the New York Times article that exercise and many drug interventions often yield similar results in their mortality benefits. The implications of this claim bring about a variety of questions in terms of how medicine is done. Should we be placing greater emphasis on exercise? Could this replace drug interventions? Should healthcare strive for a combination of the two? Some doctors have already essentially started to answer these questions through a sort of prescription exercise of their own with the nation wide program called “Walk With A Doc”.

“Walk With A Doc” is a non-profit program created by cardiologist Dr. David Sabgir. The mission “is to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages, and reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle in order to improve the health and well-being of the country.” How are they accomplishing this mission? By organizing days out of the week where doctors and their patients can meet to simply go on a walk at their own pace. Not only does this get people exercising through a physical activity that has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity according to the American Heart Association, but through walking with their doctors this provides an environment that’s a lot more relaxed and has a lot less time pressure than the usual clinic visit in which a doctor in a white coat can even cause a bit of anxiety in some patients. If exercise is seen as just as beneficial as drug intervention, what kind of health benefit can be gained from walking? Walking for as little as 30 minutes a day can have a variety of health benefits like…

-Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease

-Improving blood pressure and blood sugar levels

-Maintaining body weight and lowering the risk of obesity

-Enhancing mental well being, improving blood lipid profile

-Reducing the risk of osteoporosis

-Reducing the risk of breast and colon cancer

-Reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes

The Atlanta “Walk with a doc” program meets every first Saturday of the month at 9:00am at the Lionel Hampton Nature Preserve lead by Dr. Charles E. Moore, co-director of the Emory Urban Health Initiative, and President and Founder of the HEALing Community Center. Whether you are a doctor or a patient it is clearl that there is nothing to lose and so much to gain through participating in “Walk With A Doc”. For more information or how to participate please check out the links below.