by Thelma Sardin
Last week, Imagine Englewood If (IEi) began its six-week series of free Lead Awareness and Prevention workshops for families of lead-poisoned children. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 250,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood lead levels greater than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.
Closer to home the numbers become more frightening. Posted on IEi’s website are the Chicago Public Health Department’s (CPHD) numbers for lead poisoning in Englewood. According to (CPHD), 4454 (39.3%) of Englewood’s 11,339 children, ages 0-6, were screened for lead-poisoning in 2008, with 567 (12.7%) recording elevated lead blood levels. With less than half of all Englewood children in that age range screened in ’08, recent budget cuts have resulted in even fewer screenings.
“Self, Family and Team” is IEi’s theme for the first phase of a parent-driven initiative to increase screenings and treatment for children of the Greater Englewood community. Additionally, workshops are made possible through the Woods Fund of Chicago and will be presented by Idida Perez, community organizer and executive director of West Town Leadership United in Humboldt Park.
Jean-Carter Hill, executive director of IEi, believes lead poisoning is not highly publicized in the Black community for a number of reasons. “People do not connect the impact of the results of lead poisoning with many of the issues facing the black community. Examples of which are irreversible learning disabilities, attention deficit and behavioral problems, “adding, “The community is apathetic, overwhelmed by so many other challenges, high crime, high incarceration, poor health, unemployment, underemployment, lack of housing, etc.,” she said.
Lead poisoning is caused by old housing stock with lead-paint on the walls, chips from the window sills and in the soil from demolition and leaching, as well as toys and other objects.
IEi developed the six-week series of workshops to inspire families to strive for a positive quality of life. “We cannot help our children if we can’t help ourselves,” Carter-Hill said. The six week series is centered on the COFI (Community Organizing Family Issues) model of leadership preparation for parents.
Workshops are scheduled for Feb. 22, Mar.8, 15, and 22 from 9:30am to 12:00 pm at IEi located on 6720 S. Stewart Ave. A continental breakfast will be served. To register, call 773.488.6704 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.