Saving Lives Sponsors Have Faith in Heart Tent at Annual Tuscaloosa Heart Walk

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Fellow

For the fifth consecutive year, The University of Alabama’s Saving Lives Initiative participated in the American Heart Association’s Tuscaloosa Heart Walk at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.

This year the event was held on March 2 and Saving Lives used the opportunity to spread its message of spiritual and physical health.

“I am so happy to be here today. I had such a good time last year,” said Letrell Peoples, of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church. “This is a great opportunity to encourage people in the community to improve their health through awareness, just as we do in our congregation. We all need good information about heart disease and stroke prevention.”

This year the group, which falls under the umbrella of UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, sponsored the Have Faith in Heart Tent, as one of 18 area organizations and businesses that took part in the annual community event.

The Rev. Tyshawn Gardner, pastor of Plum Grove Baptist Church, and some of his church members came out to show support for the event. Plum Grove is a Saving Lives member church.

“I think activities like this are important to live healthy lives, for longevity of life, and overall physical health,” Gardner said before heading to the track.

Saving Lives partnered with UA student organization Eta Sigma Gamma to get students involved in educating the public about the importance of staying healthy and active.

“This is an opportunity for our students to get experience working out in the community and interacting with community members,” said UA Associate Professor Jen Nickelson, who holds a PhD in public health and serves as the faculty advisor for Eta Sigma Gamma. “For many of the students, this is one of the first times that they have interacted with the community, promoting health and encouraging healthy habits. It gives our students experience and gets them excited.”

Nickelson said she and her students discussed ways people can improve their health, increase exercise, improve their diet, and lower body fat while distributing fruit, nuts and water.

Saving Lives and Eta Sigma Gamma often partner for community outreach events.

Sally Klimek, a senior from South Bend, Ind., said she worked with the group at the Holt Health Fair as well.

“I like that it gave me an opportunity to not only get involved with health education, but also with the American Heart Association,” Klimek said.

Maruka Walker, a graduate assistant from Mobile, Ala., works with the Saving Lives Initiative and skipped her hometown’s Mardi Gras activities to attend the worthwhile cause.

“I think it’s an opportunity for the University to use its resources and engage with the community, while providing credible health information,” said Walker, who has been involved with Saving Lives for more than a year. “We get to share the resources that are needed so people can get on the journey to wellness.”

Saving Lives is under the direction of Dr. Nicole Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for Community Engagement at UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, which is an initiative of the Division of Community Affairs.

For more information about the program contact Prewitt at or at (205) 348-9819.

Saving Lives is a faith-based wellness program established by The University of Alabama’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships to advocate for healthy families and communities through faith.