Education Plus Action Equals Healthy Children!
By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention; and
Scott Mason, Director for the American Indian Environmental Office
In celebration of Children’s Health Month, we are excited to kick off this year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week by showcasing Lead Awareness in Indian Country: Keeping our Children Healthy! – a new curriculum to help tribes and communities take the first step in protecting children from potential lead exposure by educating parents and caregivers. The curriculum is a robust set of educational tools that community leaders can use to improve public awareness of the health risks associated with lead exposure and promote actions to reduce this exposure.
Tribes can face some unique challenges when it comes to lead exposure. Due to their connection and dependence on the environment for the survival of their culture(s) and their subsistence practices, tribal and indigenous populations may have different potential sources of exposure to lead. That’s why we partnered with over 200 tribal representatives to understand the real-life situations these communities are facing and the preventative actions that make the most sense in their daily lives.
The curriculum uses an impressive design to balance diverse community backgrounds, technical information and localized knowledge to provide community leaders an opportunity to plan and deliver unique messages within each structured module. Instructors with local knowledge will use the curriculum to enhance learning experiences for parents, caregivers and other community members. One way the curriculum does this is by including tribal scenarios and stories, such as the use of lead fishing sinkers and cleanup efforts at Superfund sites to help bring a local awareness and understanding of lead exposure and prevention.
While focused on tribes, the curriculum is adaptable for all communities. Those who use the curriculum will find it educates participants on simple actions that anyone can take to reduce children’s potential exposure to lead, such as effective cleaning techniques, proper handwashing and good nutrition.
Protecting children from lead exposure remains a priority for EPA and for all communities. We encourage you to explore the curriculum to learn how to identify sources of and ways to reduce childhood lead exposure in your own community at https://www.epa.gov/lead/tribal-lead-curriculum.
About the authors: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.
Scott Mason is Director of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s American Indian Environmental Office. AIEO lead efforts across the agency to protect human health and the environment in Indian country. Before coming to EPA, Scott was a vice president and the executive director of federal programs at The University of Oklahoma, where he led state and federal relations for all three of the university’s campuses. Prior to joining OU, Scott served on the staff of Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, as well as on her gubernatorial transition team. Scott is a proud citizen and enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and is 5th generation western Oklahoman.
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