Conception to pre-k is a pivotal time in child brain development. One in six children in America has a developmental disability, and one in 45 have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Research indicates that early life exposures to neurotoxic chemicals from drinking water, food, air, soil and consumer products can contribute to autism, IQ loss, learning or behavioral problems, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and speech or cognitive delays. What can city leaders do to ensure that the children in their community are healthy and safe?
Ten US cities will work towards better health outcomes for children as participants in a small grant program issued jointly by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) and the Mayors Innovation Project (MIP). The recipients will receive funding, technical assistance, and an opportunity to present at a future MIP meeting. Recipients include: Champaign IL; Lynn MA; Phoenix AZ; Anchorage AK; Norman OK; Salem MA; Salt Lake City UT; San Francisco CA; Scranton PA; and Wilkinsburg PA.
“Our city seeks to assess and revitalize our city parks,” said Mayor Paige Gebhardt-Cognetti of Scranton PA. “We believe that a program that provides attention to public health and physical well-being of our children will provide both the necessary tools to make playgrounds safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and create a path to a less toxic future safer for children’s health.”
The projects chosen for funding provide a range of examples of ways to reduce neurotoxic exposure in children, from expanding access to healthy food to improving air quality, reducing lead exposure, replacing toxic materials with nontoxic alternatives, and creating safe places to play. All projects focus on improving health and reducing disparities for vulnerable populations in their communities. Cities submitted proposals to leverage this grant with local funding to support systemic systematic change, responding specifically to needs heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. View full list of of projects in our press release.
“City leaders can dramatically impact children’s health, in particular children of color, who are most adversely impacted by these environmental harms. By addressing the social and physical determinants of health through access to healthy foods, lead abatement, and more, city leaders can play a major role in addressing children’s health disparities,” said Katya Spear, Co-Managing Director of MIP. “We are excited to support these projects and the opportunity to promote them as best practices for cities across the country.”
Interested in learning more about how cities can support their youngest residents? Check out resources from our 2020 Winter Meeting’s panel on Cradle to Prek here.