Healthy Environments for Children video wins
By Kim Colavito Markesich
The Department of Extension’s Healthy Environments for Children Initiative (HEC) won national recognition in 2009 for its animated public service announcement entitled Henry and Fred Learn about Lead. The animated video won second prize in a contest sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The contest was held to raise public awareness of lead poisoning, and the winners were selected for their ability to help educate the public about the adverse health effects of lead poisoning, how lead exposure occurs, and ways to prevent lead poisoning.
The awards were announced at the CDC’s National Environmental Health Conference on October 27, 2009, as part of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. The video may be viewed on YouTube.
The video was a collaborative effort that included Joan Bothell and Mary-Margaret Gaudio, both of HEC, along with staff, faculty and students from other UConn departments: Phillip Caron, Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering, who did the animation; Karen Ryker, Sarah Murdoch Billard and Daniel Seigerman, Department of Dramatic Arts, who did the voiceovers; and Mary Banas and John Paul Chirdon from the Design Center, who provided original graphics.
“We found fabulous people to collaborate with on this project,” says Bothell. “The willingness of folks across the University to help with the project was truly gratifying.”
“We could not have done it without them,” Gaudio concurs. “People went out of their way to help us meet a very tight deadline.”
The animated public service announcement is based on Bothell’s book Henry and Fred Learn about Lead (2003). A companion activity book is also available . These two publications have been widely used by schools and public health organizations across the United States. HEC’s mission is to provide education and outreach on a variety of environmental health concerns, particularly as they affect children. In addition to lead-poisoning prevention, HEC has focused on radon and water conservation and is hoping to address additional issues related to healthy homes.
Contrary to popular belief, says Gaudio, lead poisoning in children is still a very serious problem in the United States, causing permanent learning, behavior and medical problems. In 1990, the federal government set a goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning by 2010. According to Bothell, the latest statistics show that about 200,000 children under the age of six are lead poisoned each year. In Connecticut alone, more than 1,000 young children were lead poisoned in 2008.
Gaudio explains that in January 2009, the state of Connecticut began requiring routine lead screenings of one-and two-year old children. By April 2010, EPA will require all building contractors working on homes built before 1978 (the year when lead paint was banned for residential use) to use lead-safe work practices. Approximately 70 percent of childhood lead poisoning cases are associated with lead paint, and many of these cases are connected with unsafe renovations. The remaining 30 percent of cases are attributed to lead from other sources, such as toys, pottery and contaminated water.
Says Bothell, “For many years, we’ve been developing educational materials, training programs and outreach presentations to inform both adults and children about the dangers of lead and about ways to prevent lead poisoning. We are very grateful for the recognition shown by this national award, and we hope that our video contributes to the elimination of lead poisoning.”
Gaudio and Bothell plan to continue to address childhood lead poisoning with several new collaborative programs, including an online training program for Connecticut educators developed for the LAMPP (Lead Action for Medicaid Primary Prevention) Project. They also continue to coordinate the New England Lead Coordinating Committee, a regional consortium of state and tribal agencies working to eliminate lead poisoning.
For more information about lead, visit the following websites: EPA [http://www.epa.gov/lead], CDC [http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/] and HUD [hud.gov/offices/lead].
Henry and Fred Learn
Public Service Announcement
Henry B. Careful and Fred, his pet mouse
Live with Mom, Dad, and Sister, in Grandma’s old house.
The house is so old that its gray paint is peeling
With dust from the windows and flakes from the ceiling.
In houses so old, the paint contains lead.
And lead makes kids sick—it could even hurt Fred.
Henry B. Careful advised his friend Fred
On ways that they both could stay safe from lead.
“The house will be fixed, using lead-safe work rules.
But until it is fixed, we’ll act smart, not like fools.
“We’ll stay far from lead paint—its flakes and its dust.
The grownups will clean it, in that we can trust.
“We’ll wash hands before eating and after we play.
We’ll use soap and warm water to scrub dust away.
“We’ll leave shoes at the door, to keep lead dust outside.
We’ll eat healthy foods, not just sweets and things fried.”
So Henry B. Careful explained what to do.
To keep safe from lead, and stay healthy like you.