The 2005 Children’s Environmental Health Excellence Award
On April 21st, 2005, WE ACT for Environmental Justice was recognized for its commitment to protecting children from environmental health hazards.
WE ACT was one of only 15 individuals and organizations across the country to receive the 2005 Children's Environmental Health Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A special ceremony was held in honor of all of the awardees at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C.
According to William H. Sanders III – Acting Director of the Office of Children’s Health Protection at EPA – the Children’s Environmental Excellence Awards program recognizes individuals, communities and organizations that are leaders in making the environment healthier for children. “This year’s winners exemplify what it means to have a strong commitment to children’s environmental health, and EPA is proud to be honoring them for their efforts,” said Mr. Sanders.
WE ACT was recognized for its years of working to reduce the environmental health hazards and improve the living conditions of Northern Manhattan’s children. More specifically, the award focused on WE ACT’s efforts to fashion a better lead poisoning prevention law in New York City. WE ACT's work on this issue began in 1998 with a lawsuit filed against City Council Speaker Peter Valone for passing Local Law 38, which did not sufficiently address the health needs of lead poisoned children. Local Law 38 was voided in 2000 and WE ACT, along with a few other community-based organizations, initiated the drafting of a stricter alternative – Local Law 1. Local Law 1 contained a broader definition of lead hazards, shifted the burden of reporting these lead hazards from the parents to landlords, held landlords responsible for inspection and eradication of lead hazards, and raised the age of concern from 6 to 7. To generate support for Local Law 1, WE ACT trained parents to testify at council meetings, met with council members, and participated in negotiating sessions and media briefings. Due in large part to these efforts, Local Law 1 was passed in early 2004.
“We are proud of the hard work and dedication of our staff, volunteers and community residents, which has led to the achievement of this outstanding recognition,” said Peggy Shepard, Executive Director of WE ACT. “To be recognized by EPA is an honor and a privilege for us. Our accomplishments provide tangible proof that hard work and dedication can make a difference in children’s lives.”
2005 was the first year that the Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP) gave out the Children’s Environmental Health Excellence Awards. EPA established OCHP in May 1997 to make the protection of children’s health a fundamental goal of public health and environmental protection in the United States. OCHP supports and facilitates Agency efforts to protect children’s health from environmental threats. The awards program recognizes both individuals and organizations for their activities in outreach, education, and intervention that protect children from environmental health risks.