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Children's Health Protection

Engaging Youth in Children's Environmental Health Protection

The goal of the youth program is to engage youth in children's environmental health protection. OCHP worked with the Academy for Educational Development Exit EPA to integrate environmental health into youth-based organizations. Six national organizations (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, National FFA, United National Indian Tribal Youth, and Real Actions Directed to Improving Children's Health and Lifestyles) representing 14.5 million children and youth are taking action to protect children's health.

National Organizations

National FFA Organization

Mission: To make a positive difference in the lives of young people by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.

Membership: 452,000 members and 7,268 chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and Rota. Membership range is 12-21 years old.

Demographics: Percent Rural: 35%, Percent Urban 33%, Percent Suburban 32%: Ethnic involvement: 88% White, 12% Minority groups.

Focus Area: National FFA incorporated a broad based environmental health curriculum into their community development program. Youth in FFA chapters have an opportunity to learn what they can do to protect themselves and their families against environmental health hazards, such as pesticide poisoning, polluted drinking water, lead, and environmental triggers of asthma. The curriculum is promoted through a special edition CD-ROM.

National 4-H Council

Mission: To be an uncommon youth development organization promoting innovation and shared learning for youth workers and leaders.

Membership: Over 6 million youth who participate through 83,148 clubs, 45,000 interest groups and 98,000 school programs. Membership range is 5-21 years old.

Demographics: Ethnic involvement: 72% White, 16% Black, 8% Hispanic, 4% Other.

Focus Area: 4-H is focused on asthma, lead poisoning, drinking water contamination, and pesticide poisoning. Information and activities in which 4-H clubs and groups throughout the United States can participate will be offered through the 4-H Web sites at state and local 4-H events.

Girl Scouts of the USA

Mission: To inspire girls with the highest ideals of character, conduct, patriotism, and service so that they may become happy and resourceful citizens.

Membership: The largest voluntary organization for girls in the world. Over 3.6 million girls participate through 223,129 troops and 318 councils nationwide. Membership range is 5-17 years old. Eleven percent of all girls 5 to 17 years old in the United States are Girl Scouts (1 in 9).

Demographics: Ethnic involvement: 79% White, 12% Black, 6% Hispanic, 1.5% Asian, 1.5% American Indian.

Focus Area: Girl Scouts are incorporating environmental health initiatives throughout several of their programs. A new environmental health badge, a new Web page on environmental health, and an environmental health chapter in the Girl Scouts Junior Handbook are available.

Boy Scouts of America

Mission: To prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the scout Oath and Law.

Membership: 4.8 million boys participate in scouting each year through almost 54,000 troops across the nation. Scouts range from 11-17 years old.

Demographics: Ethnic involvement: 75% White, 11% Black, 10% Hispanic, 3% Asian, Other 1%.

Focus Area: The Boy Scouts will incorporate sun safety, asthma, and pesticides safety into their programs. These environmental health issues are being integrated into their National Merit Badge Program and were incorporated into their international Boy Scout Jamboree. Future plans are to incorporate environmental health measures in the Boy Scout Handbook and as a requirement to receive the environmental science badge.

United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY)

Mission: To foster the spiritual, mental, physical and social development of American Indian and Alaska native Youth and to help build a strong, unified, and self-reliant Native America through greater youth involvement.

Membership: UNITY has 45,000 members through a network of 180 youth councils in 33 States. UNITY youth range from 15-24 years in age.

Demographics: 55% of youth from urban areas, 45% live on Tribal lands.

Focus Area: UNITY is continuing to incorporate environmental health (water quality, fish contamination, and second hand smoke) into areas of their community development program. They have conducted several train-the-trainer programs to educate Tribal Nations and youth about the importance of protecting their health and the health of their communities regarding these environmental health issues. Visit the UNITY Web site at www.unityinc.org Exit EPA to learn more.

Real Actions Directed to Improving Children's Health and Lifestyles (RADICAL)

RADICAL is an inter city youth program located in Philadelphia, PA that's making a huge impact on the youth in their city. Through song, dance, and drama, they are spreading the environmental health message to young children and teens in schools, churches, community events, and after school programs. RADICAL believes that the best education for youth is designed by youth. The RADICAL youth created a model to deliver a powerful, positive health message to engage other youth in protecting their health from environmental health threats. The program is part of the Temple University Service Learning Center.

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