Partnership Effort for the Advancement of Children’s Health (PEACH)

800 North Magnum Street, Suite 105 Durham, NC 27701

With funding from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, NCHH awarded 15 $5,000 Lead Poisoning Awareness Community Mini-Grants in 2017. These grants were for community events focused on raising awareness, engaging community leaders in advocacy, or motivating policy change around lead poisoning prevention.

As a mini-grantee, PEACH partnered with Reinvestment Partners, a local community non-profit, the Durham Transformation in Ten Housing Task Force, and a Durham lead coalition group to host the Town Hall Meeting to take Action to Protect Kids from Lead community meeting.

The event was envisioned as both educational and a call to action for policymakers and the community. The town hall event included presentations by the Durham County Health Department, two residents who shared a harrowing experience when their neighbor power washed the wood siding of their home, contaminating all three properties with large amounts of lead-based paint, and a local professor who highlighted the systemic practices that exacerbated racial injustices associated with housing and potential of lead exposure. The event was an opportunity to present information to the community about lead-based paint hazards, especially during renovation, repair, and painting activities in older homes and to emphasize to community residents that lead poisoning in children causes life-long health, learning, and behavioral problems. Also, the meeting served as an opportunity to present to the community how laws to protect children from lead-based paint exposure are reactionary laws that require children to be lead-poisoned before they are eligible to receive any intervention services from local health and housing authorities.

Importantly, the meeting was an interactive format to receive comments, questions, and recommendations from community participants on ways to stop using children to identify lead-based paint hazards, to discuss what can be done to enforce current laws that govern contractors and that are designed to protect children when repairs are done in older houses, and to help PEACH and its partners to determine what should be in a Durham Community Action Plan to protect kids from lead exposure. Notably, more than eighty participants supported the town hall meeting and the attendees demonstrated a keen interest in the topic.

Going forward, the town hall planning group has met to discuss next steps. Next steps will focus on activities to ban unsafe work practices, and require property owners to conduct repair work in a lead-safe manner and to undergo post-work clearance testing to ensure the absence of hazards. Additionally, two elected officials who attended the event followed up with PEACH to request additional information about the effects of lead on children and about PEACH activities.

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