By Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff
I spent the past few weeks poring over the Healthy Child archives and I’m amazed at what I found. I knew this organization was powerful, but I didn’t really comprehend the extent of our impact.
The reason my children’s school has to notify me before spraying pesticides is thanks to legislation that was introduced by Barbara Boxer, who dedicated the Children’s Environmental Protection Act of 1996 to the memory of Colette Chuda.
And though the Act was not passed in full, the Chudas and Healthy Child Healthy World were instrumental in President Clinton’s Executive Order 12606, dedicated to better protecting children from environmental health risks.
Pressure from our supporters helped legislators understand the importance of passing the 2008 Toxic Toys Bill, which better protects our kids from lead and phthalates. From the beginning, we’ve supported the Safe Chemicals Act, which will be up for another Senate vote this April.
And just to take a minute to toot our own horn: Last year, Michelle Obama named us her “favorite cause.” Please click through to our recently published 2011 Annual Report for more information on last year’s accomplishments.
My point is, for the past 20 years, Healthy Child Healthy World has been a driving force in the children’s environmental health movement. And now it’s time for us move in a new and very exciting direction.
As our “Mom on a Mission” candidates demonstrate, Healthy Child is for everyone. However, our messages are currently inaccessible to many families of Latino children, who now represent one in six children in the United States.
Latino children are more affected by health problems linked to environmental factors than any other group. They are 60 percent more at risk for asthma than white children, and three times more likely to die from asthma as adults.
Many of these problems can be positively affected by simple, easy and cost-effective suggestions found in our 5 Easy Steps, such as opening windows, being careful with plastics, managing pests without pesticides and cleaning homes without chemicals.
Healthy Child recommends actions that every parent can embrace — and achieve. That’s why it’s crucial that every parent can access them.
This month, we’re kicking off a campaign to translate core materials — such as our 5 Easy Steps and our “Wake Up Story” video — into Spanish, and integrating them into the Healthy Child Party Kit scholarship program, which donates 10 kits each month to families. We’re also working on a tech overhaul: According to a Pew poll, 51 percent of Hispanics use their phones to access the Internet, compared with 46 percent of blacks and 33 percent of whites. In order to reach more families, we need to update our website with mobile-friendly, bi-lingual capabilities, and translate our mobile app into Spanish.
I want to thank two key supporters in this effort: Advisory Board members Ana Flores of Spanglish Baby, who has offered her help with translation, and Tony Brown of Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA).
HOLA provides after-school programming to underserved and at-risk youth, many of whom come from Spanish-speaking families. After translating our 5 Easy Steps internally, we’ll work with our partners at HOLA to test and hone our messaging before distributing the materials nationwide through the Healthy Child Party Kit and other programs.
You can help us kick off this campaign TODAY and you may know others who can also help us achieve our goals. Remember, 90 percent of our budget goes towards programming — not staff, not offices, not promotion.
Here’s to another two decades of healthier and happier parents, children and families!