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Release Date: 09/02/1998
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1064

Boston - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named Manchester a Child Health Champion pilot city and awarded a consortium of organizations $35,000 as a first installment of an anticipated $135,000 grant to support their efforts. Manchester is one of eleven communities chosen across the country to pilot an effort of building local capacity to address environmental health risks to children.

The Child Health Champion Pilot project furthers the Clinton Administration's efforts to strengthen families, protect children, and provide greater safeguards for the environment--both outdoors and indoors.

"Pound for pound, children drink more fluids, eat more food, and breathe more air," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England administrator. "Helping families make decisions that can affect their children is at the heart of the Champion initiative. Manchester is rallying behind its children in a progressive campaign, unique in its focus on integrating services to families."

"The city of Manchester, EPA and the Child Health Champion Consortium are to be congratulated for coordinating on an initiative that will improve the health and quality of life of Manchester's children," said Governor Jeanne Shaheen. "It is always exciting to see New Hampshire communities recognized for innovative ideas that will make a difference in people's lives - making New Hampshire an even better place to live and raise a family. Thanks to the EPA for bringing federal resources to this important local effort."

"Manchester has had the good fortune earlier this year to be named the number one most livable small city in the East," said Mayor Raymond J. Wieczorek "This grant will help the city maintain this status by supporting community efforts to establish a healthy environment for all of our children."

"Asthma, lead poisoning, healthy homes and schools, and a clean environment are national priorities which deserve serious public policy attention," said Senator Bob Smith. "I am pleased the Manchester Child Health Champion Program will provide Manchester with the resources to take positive action toward addressing some of the most critical of these concerns. I want to congratulate the city of Manchester, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the community organizations for participating in this outstanding program."

"I congratulate the city of Manchester, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Child Health Champion Consortium for their work to develop an initiative which places a priority on safeguarding the lives of our children so that they may have healthy and healthy futures," said Congressman John E. Sununu.

The Manchester Child Health Champion group's mission statement is:

      To engage people in an effort to improve the quality of life for Manchester's children from infancy through grade 5 through early intervention, education and services that promote healthy homes, safe schools, and a clean outdoors.
The Manchester proposed project addresses key environmental health risks: lead poisoning prevention through intensive family education and home management; reducing children's exposure to household and school allergens that can cause asthma; and training children and families who suffer from asthma in how to manage their illness and avoid acute episodes that result in hospital visits. An early intervention program for young families will be developed to help families identify risks and to make wise decisions for healthy living and safe homes. An elaborate referral program will be established among the agencies to ensure extended services are provided to help families reduce risks to children from environmental health threats.

"This grant furthers the city's ongoing efforts to create a healthy environment for our children," said Fred Rusczek, director of the Manchester health department. "The link between a clean environment and personal health has been recognized for centuries. Today's environmental risks may be different from yesterday's concerns but they are no less important. The city is fortunate to have both the federal funds to support this important health initiative and the commitment of several community agencies which share a common goal of protecting and improving children's health."

"The Salvation Army has a long history of caring for children and families in Manchester. This project will allow us to further our work with teen parents by developing an instructional program that teaches them how to create healthy physical environments for their young families," said Joyce Palmer, director of community development from the Salvation Army. "An important part of this effort will be to insure that the language and examples used are relevant and understandable to today's young mothers. The services provided by the group members will greatly benefit some of our clients, and we look forward to working together to implement this exciting collaborative venture."

"It is terrible for a parent to learn that their home is poisoning their child because of hazards such as lead or asthma triggers," said Mary Sliney, executive director of The Way Home. "For some, if they cannot afford new housing, a sense of powerlessness can overwhelm them. As a Child Health Champion in Manchester, The Way Home will support the efforts of low income families to improve the health of their children. The Way Home will provide parents with the information, resources, and help they need to reduce home-based environmental health hazards. The Child Health Champion program will empower a group of parents to help their own children and will train them as peer educators to assist other low income parents."

The cooperating members of the Child Health Champion Consortium are: the Manchester Health Department, the Way Home, the Salvation Army, Child Health Services, New Hampshire Lung Association, NH Coalition for Safety and Health, Southern NH Services, NH Audubon, Merrimack River Watershed Council, UNH Cooperative Extension, ALPHA -Alliance for the Progress of Hispanic Americans, HUD, and the NH Division of Health Services. The consortium has been meeting regularly since March to develop its mission statement and design a program that will achieve significant and measurable benefits to Manchester's children.