The Great Lakes Environmental Health Project

Empowering families using the West Allis Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to reduce exposure to environmental health risks

Full Project Name:The Great Lakes Environmental Health ProjectPrimary Community Organization:University of Wisconsin‐MilwaukeePrimary Academic Partner:Earnestine Willis, MD, MPH, PediatricsAward Amount:37,114
Award Date
July2008
Project Duration:12 months

Project Description Narrative:


Pound for pound, children eat more food, drink more water, and breathe more air relative to their size than adults, and consequently are exposed to relatively higher amounts of contaminants. A child's brain is especially vulnerable to adverse impacts from toxicants, and children are exposed to a wide range of common environmental toxins including tobacco smoke, pesticides, and mercury that can result in chronic health concerns and developmental issues. The total costs of environmentally attributable disease in American children are estimated at $54.9 billion annually.

Through this award, families served by the West Allis Health Department Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program will be empowered to reduce their children's exposure to a variety of environmental health risks through community-based environmental health education and risk-reduction skill-building sessions in order to ultimately reduce health disparities in children.

Community partners:
West Allis Health Department

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Established a steering committee to provide leadership and expertise on the project

• Created an educational workshop for health care professionals within the West Allis Health Department and a focus group of WIC clients to inform the planning and development of educational sessions for WIC clients

• Created educational sessions in English and Spanish that provided information on water quality and health, indoor air quality and health, and toxins around the home

• Hosted educational sessions that included WIC clients, students in a School Age Parent Program, and community members, documenting an increase in post-session knowledge on the topics

• Supported the West Allis Health Department in developing a "train the trainer" environmental health workshop and incorpoate educational materials for clients visited in their homes

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