April has brought not only showers (rain and snow) to Connecticut but also a bouquet of awards to the Healthy Environments for Children Initiative (HEC, www.hec.uconn.edu), staffed by Joan Bothell and Mary-Margaret Gaudio, of UConn Extension.
First, the National Association of Environmental Professionals awarded HEC its 2014 Environmental Excellence Award in Education for the initiative’s Susie and Jerome Learn about a Healthy Home project. The project includes a rhyming children’s book and teacher’s guide (developed in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Public Health) and an animated video (funded by the Hartford County Extension Council and produced with help from the Department of Dramatic Arts faculty and students). The video is posted on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48XQ6glxQGM).
The Susie and Jerome materials teach children and the adults who care for them the importance of a healthy home—one that is clean, dry, safe, and in good repair, with fresh air, no pests, and no dangerous chemicals. The materials also illustrate some simple, practical actions that children and adults can take to make and keep their homes healthy.
Next, at a ceremony held on Earth Day (April 22) in Boston’s Faneuil Hall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-New England honored Joan Bothell with a 2014 Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award for her work on behalf of the region’s public health and natural environment. The award noted her work as the coordinator of the New England Lead Coordinating Committee (NELCC, http://www.hec.uconn.edu), her development of lead awareness and healthy homes publications and training programs, and her books for young children (Henry and Fred Learn about Lead and Susie and Jerome Learn about a Healthy Home).
Finally, EPA also presented a 2014 Environmental Merit Award to NELCC as a nonprofit organization. NELCC is a regional consortium of state and tribal agencies working to end lead poisoning, especially in children. NELCC develops regional projects and promotes the exchange of information, ideas, materials, and programs among its member agencies, federal agencies, and other organizations working to eliminate lead poisoning throughout New England. NELCC has fostered communication among key state and federal officials, as well as improving education/outreach to the private sector and the public. NELCC has hosted meetings and conferences, conducted educational webinars, produced instructional videos, posters, and booklets, and developed lead-safe awareness and work-practices courses.