Community-Scientist Event: Mothers, Babies and the Environment

On Monday March 7, the USC Environmental Health Community Outreach Program hosted a luncheon event at the East Los Angeles Community Service Center. The aim of the event was to foster a dialogue between scientists researching impact of pollution and stress on maternal and child health with local organizations working on the ground to improve health and well-being of mothers and their families.

Community members, staff members from local community based organizations, as well as staff from local elected officials offices all participated. USC scientists who are part of the MADRES research project, presented information about the critical role of chemicals on the health of mothers and young children, the importance of research studies and the key role of the environment in health disparities.  The group heard presentations from Legacy LA, First 5 Los Angeles Best Start Community Partnership, Boyle Heights Beat, From Lot to Spot, Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA, and Clinica Romero. Also contributing to the discussion on behalf of local communities were representatives from the Boyle Heights Stakeholders Association, Mothers of East LA, Coalition for Clean Air, staff members representing Supervisor Hilda Solis’ and Congressman Xavier Becerra’s office, LAUSD, and local community organizer Martha Jimenez.

Presentations along with topic based roundtable discussions, sparked ideas and feedback about how to increase awareness in local communities and provide information. In general, to raise awareness about many of the topics discussed at the lunch event, participants suggested communication dissemination to include newspaper ads, radio announcements, local reports from the youth at Boyle Heights Beat to Spanish language media. USC also listened closely to community members as they suggested ideas of places and times in the community where people are already gathered as ideal to present important and timely health information that can be directly applied in their daily lives.

Based on the feedback and ideas heard at the event, the Community Outreach team will move forward to create new resources around the theme of “Women’s Wellness” focused on toxic exposures in the everyday environment, particularly in homes and products used in homes. From web and print content on various topics, to doing workshops about toxic products, the team will be seeking further input and collaboration from community groups in the coming months to refine their work to make it a helpful resource to the communities who are interested. Ongoing work of the Community Outreach team which includes community based air pollution monitoring and new areas of other toxic exposure monitoring will continue as groups express interest in these collaborations. The team, who has recently also started to be more involved in the planning and development of green spaces around Los Angeles, will continue to develop resources around this topic as well as see how to be a resource in environmental justice communities.