Photo exhibit focuses on neighborhood health needs

Empty streets, community gardens and abandoned buildings were some perspectives captured by 25 New Orleans residents participating in a photovoice project led by the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC).

The photovoice project is part of PRC's Movin' for LIFE campaign, during which local residents in the Upper and Lower Ninth Wards and New Orleans East met in small groups to discuss the needs of their community.

Each meeting focused on a health topic, and participants were given assignments to document through photos what helps them to be healthy, as well as challenges they have faced in leading a healthy lifestyle. (Click on the photo above to see a slideshow of photos from participants and read below for the stories behind the photos.)

In October 2017, the photographers showcased their work during a free, public exhibit at the Sanchez Multi-Purpose Center, a space owned by the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission. Public officials and stakeholders, identified by the participants, were invited. City Councilman James Gray and Orleans Sheriff Marlin Gusman were among the elected officials to attend, as well as staff from NORDC and the New Orleans Health Department.

Tulane PRC faculty co-investigator Jeanette Gustat and participant Samantha Dedais-Mitchell also led a seminar in November 2017 at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine to present the project to interested community partners, students, and health professionals.

Among the photos, participant Brian Washington photographed an empty street (photo 2). "There's no children playing outside because it's not safe to be outside sometimes," said Washington. "We have to make a safer environment for the children."

Helen Robinson photographed her neighbor in his garden (photo 3). "Mr. Franklin tends to his garden, even after having surgery and he grows many different types of vegetables like mustard greens, and shares them with his neighbors," said Robinson. "I want to be more like Mr. Franklin."

Another participant, Cynthia Atkins, photographed herself with a bike at a nearby park (photo 4). "The park has activities to help stay fit, such as water aerobics, swimming, biking and a walking trail," said Atkins. "It helps our neighborhood grow and stay healthy."

Jeanette Gustat, a clinical associate professor of epidemiology at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and investigator at the Tulane PRC, said the goal of the project is "to gain a deeper understanding of how neighborhoods influence residents' health."

"We also want to help share their ideas and suggestions with the broader community, including decision-makers, so their voice is amplified."

For information, visit

By Naomi Englar, Tulane PRC Staff
December 2017

(Click on the photo above to see a slideshow of photos from participants and read above for the stories behind the photos.)

Topics:   health communication , built environment , food environment , agriculture , nutrition , diet , physical activity , community health

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