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Medical student's program fights obesity in community

Walk in Faith
Walk in Faith

“I truly do recognize how weight can affect so many aspects of your life and how we needed to address that,” Bynum said.

With the help of many people, including Dr. Keisha Gibson , a long-time friend of Bynum and co-wellness chairwoman at First Calvary Baptist Church, Bynum created a program called “Walking in Faith.” The American Academy of Family Physicians recently awarded Bynum with the Community Outreach Award for her program.

The program, which partnered with First Calvary Baptist Church, combines both nutrition and walking sessions to promote positive change within faith-based communities.

“I told her when she came to me, ‘I want you to be careful because this sounds extremely ambitious’,” Gibson said.

Bynum, among others, prepared lay leaders to educate program participants about a variety of matters regarding nutrition and exercise.

She said she saw the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship as an opportunity to reach out and help others battle obesity, specifically within the African-American community. The fellowship helps medical students who are trying to address unmet needs within the community.

Knowing how the church plays a large role in the African-American community, Bynum said she started small with the idea of partnering with a church organization, as well as instituting a program that addresses obesity.

However, Bynum not only wanted to help the participants in the program lose weight, but to also create a lifestyle change.

“To me, increasing physical activity is more of a long term indicator of what you’re going to do,” Bynum said. “We’re changing habits. That to me is a lot more important.”

Trellis Frierson and Erica Borden, two lay leaders in the program, said Bynum made the nutrition program engaging for all participants by involving her family and bringing new recipes to try out every week.

“Her kids would try the recipes as well, and they really enjoyed it,” Borden said. “So you had adults seeing that kids were very open to different ideas.”

Imani Bynum, the youngest of Milele Bynum’s three children, said her life at home didn’t change too drastically when her mom started “Walking in Faith,” but there were some modifications to her diet.

“We’ve always tried to have physical activity at home, but we changed different things we eat,” she said. “Like instead of having white rice, we have brown rice and ate healthier.”

Aisha Bynum, another of Milele Bynum’s children, said their mom expressed the difference even a small amount of exercise can make.

“She was trying to tell everyone that no matter how busy you are, there’s always time to exercise,” she said.

Contact the desk editor at  university@dailytarheel.com.

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