The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a coalition led by The Neighborhood Developers with a $25,000 grant earlier this month to promote asthma health education.
The grant was one of 14 given in New England to fund community projects addressing environmental and public health issues in New England. The Chelsea grant will support a project to pilot and test three approaches to community-based asthma health education, targeting primarily low-income, largely immigrant households in the Shurtleff Bellingham Neighborhood.
“This Healthy Community Grant will get trained professionals working directly with residents to reduce asthma triggers in the home and help improve children’s health in Chelsea,” said Curt Spalding EPA Regional Administrator at the check presentation ceremony held in Bosson Park. “TND and its partners are working locally to protect human health and the environment here in Chelsea and I look forward to seeing the results of their efforts.”
Said City Manager Jay Ash, “Chelsea, and especially our children, is lucky to have EPA empowering us to make a difference in the lives of our families and maybe, through replication of what we hope is a successful initiative, families across the country. And, while the EPA financial commitment isn’t big, in terms of grant dollars, the impacts on the health and financial well-being of our families, both short and long-term, and the amount of additional funding we may be able to leverage as a result of our empirical work is sure to provide a return on investment that all of us would be pleased to have in our own portfolios.”
TND’s Melissa Walsh said she was glad to see the EPA get involved in asthma issues in Chelsea.
“EPA has meant such a great deal to the health and well-being of Chelsea already, and is now stepping up to help us help our youngest avoid an avoidable infliction: asthma,” said Walsh, Community Engagement Coordinator at TND. “Thanks to this latest EPA grant, we’ll be able to engage residents, train inspectors, develop programming and track our results in making our homes safer and our kids healthier. What could be a more worthwhile cause?”
Jeanette McWilliams, administrative director at MGH Chelsea Healthcare Center, said, “Through this Healthy Communities grant with a focus on Healthy Indoor Environments, EPA is helping three key partners to take a deeper approach to address the underlying causes of asthma symptoms among children. This funding will allow MGH Chelsea to test education strategies that are focused on patients’ and families home settings, with the additional aim to bring families together who are residents in the same neighborhood and are all facing the issue of childhood asthma. Our hope is that children will be healthier as a result of this collaboration, and that families will build lasting support systems in the place where they live.”
School Committeewoman Lucia Henriquez said she was glad to see EPA championing the cause.
“Families in this neighborhood need champions, and EPA is proving to be one. I’m grateful, we’re all grateful for EPA’s willingness to create healthier housing options and better health for all of us, and especially our children, in this neighborhood.”
The Healthy Communities Grant Program focuses on identifying projects in target investment areas, including areas with environmental justice, areas with sensitive populations, and areas that are vulnerable to impacts to climate change, stormwater runoff. Funding from the program benefits projects in communities that will, help communities understand and reduce environmental and human health risks, increase collaboration through community based projects, build institutional and community capacity to understand and solve environmental and public health problems like asthma and climate change, or achieve measurable environmental and public health results.
“It’s great to have a partner like EPA working in places like Chelsea and making such a huge difference on the health of our residents and the vitality of our community. I’m pleased to support such an effort and the overall work of TND, its partners and the City of Chelsea to continue to innovate and succeed in producing meaningful advancements in the Shurtleff Bellingham neighborhood and beyond,” stated Congressman Michael Capuano.
EPA’s grant coincides with additional work being performed in the Shurtleff Bellingham neighborhood under the community’s Chelsea Thrives program. That program, which is the local version of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Cities Challenge initiative, seeks to produce prosperity, quality of life and physical improvements to Shurtleff Bellingham. Thirty partners, including City government, are working on numerous initiatives and the development of a data system to track the local success.
“We’re on the leading edge of a new, more comprehensive and coordinated approach to lifting the status of once struggling neighborhoods throughout the state and country. We’re already seeing success on our local effort and believe that partners like EPA will deepen and accelerate that success,” concluded Ash.