Healthy People 2020 At Work in the Community: Lead Poisoning Low Literacy Training Program
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 4 million households have children "living in them that are exposed to lead."
With the support of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) through the Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project, the Childhood Lead Action Project in Rhode Island implemented an educational program about childhood lead poisoning called the Lead Poisoning Low-Literacy Training Project.
The Childhood Lead Action Project reached out to low-income communities, low-literacy communities, and limited English-language speakers during this project, explained Roberta Hazen Aaronson, Executive Director of the Childhood Lead Action Project.
"We have a lot of refugees and recent immigrants in Providence," added Eric French, Community Educator at the Childhood Lead Action Project.
Reaching Refugee Populations
The Childhood Lead Action Project reaches low-income communities, low-literacy communities, and limited English-language speakers through partnerships with organizations providing services for recent immigrant and refugee populations. Eric French, Community Educator at the Childhood Lead Action Project, connects with these populations at English as a second language (ESL) classes to raise the communities' awareness of childhood lead poisoning.
Ms. Aaronson, Mr. French, and their fellow colleagues developed two main components to this project. The first consisted of presentations about lead exposure and poisoning at ESL classes, churches, and other venues. This work enabled the Childhood Lead Action Project to form alliances with other community-based organizations working with low-income communities, low-literacy communities, and other marginalized groups.
The second component entailed "lead-safe house parties," where Mr. French presented information to parents and community members about childhood lead poisoning. As Mr. French recruited individuals to host the "lead-safe house parties," he discovered there was a lot of overlap between the two program strategies. "Eric was able to recruit folks from the community presentations who were interested in serving as hosts for the lead-safe house parties," explained Ms. Aaronson.
Thus far, the Childhood Lead Action Project has been able to reach 37 community members from 5 "lead-safe house parties." Additionally, Mr. French conducted 11 presentations at community-based organizations reaching 152 additional people.
"The logistics of having a house party is more complicated than people think."—Eric French, Community Educator, Childhood Lead Action Project
Mr. French and his colleagues at the Childhood Lead Action Project also talked about fire safety and tenants' rights during the community presentations and "lead-safe house parties" because knowledge about tenants' rights is often the "root cause of many of the housing problems in Providence," continued Mr. French.
One of the goals of the project was for parents and community members to identify lead hazards such as "when the paint is chipping and peeling," said Mr. French.
While the Childhood Lead Action Project successfully partnered with other community-based organizations in the Providence area to implement this project, Ms. Aaronson, Mr. French, and their colleagues learned that these partnerships required constant communication. "A lot of these organizations are very busy, and we needed to be quite persistent to get on their calendars," stated Ms. Aaronson.
Once parents and community members learn more about lead poisoning, lead hazards, and the effects of lead poisoning from these presentations and parties, staff of the Childhood Lead Action Project hope this new information will empower individuals to take action. They want parents to "be more aware of what their rights are in terms of empowering them with information," explained Ms. Aaronson.
Reaching Limited-English Speakers
"The low-literacy booklet was a very big success. People would follow the presentation better than they did without the booklet."—Eric French, Community Educator, Childhood Lead Action Project
Lead Poisoning Low Literacy Training Program
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) challenged America’s health organizations to come up with new and innovative projects that could tackle some of today’s most pressing public health issues.
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