In urban centers such as Baltimore, environmental conditions that can lead to poor health for our children are widespread. These include lead due to peeling paint, mold, pests and pesticides, carbon monoxide, and tobacco smoke.
Here in Baltimore, we understand that we must work collaboratively to build stronger, healthier neighborhoods and schools for our children—places where our children can learn and thrive.
Today I joined Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Shawn Garvin, and Congressman John Sarbanes to celebrate Children’s Health Month and to accept a $100,000 grant to fund the Healthy Environments for City Kids Initiative. Healthy Environments for City Kids (HECK) will help us improve child health outcomes by addressing a wide variety of environmental risks in the places children spend most of their time – at home, in school, and in childcare.
BCHD was one of 13 organizations selected from 263 applicants across the country to receive a grant from EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection to reduce children’s exposures to environmental hazards. The Health Department will receive funds over 18 months to promote and support healthy childcare and school environments - places where our children learn and play – to make them safer and healthier.
This grant will enable us to build the capacity of community-based partners – our home visitors, school staff, and childcare providers – to recognize and address environmental hazards. We will engage city residents through innovative strategies such as community-based Healthy Homes meetings, where they will obtain the knowledge and tools needed to reduce environmental health risks in their own homes. By doing so, we are empowering Baltimore city families to take control of their own health, and the health of their communities.
The work neatly dovetails with our Healthy Baltimore 2015 goals to promote children’s health, and create healthy and growing neighborhoods. We know that healthy children learn better, so it makes sense to ensure that the environments in which children live support their health. We are grateful for the support of the EPA and excited to join their efforts to promote healthy environments for our children.