McDonald & Cizmas to work with Head Start Centers

September 15, 2011

Dr. McDonald

Dr. Cizmas

Tommy McDonald, Ph.D., associate professor and department head at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health, and Leslie Cizmas, Ph.D., research assistant professor, will serve as co-principal investigators on an Environmental Protection Agency-funded project to build environmental awareness in teachers and parents associated with the Head Start centers in Webb County, Texas.  The Webb County Head Start program serves approximately 500 low-income, predominantly Hispanic families and provides comprehensive child development and early education for children ages 3 to 5 years old.

The goal of this project is to build the capacity of Head Start parents, teachers and staff to ensure a healthy environment for children by reducing children’s exposures to environmental hazards and contaminants that are common in this area of Texas, including asthma triggers, pesticides, lead, tobacco smoke, volatile organic chemicals and particulate matter in indoor air; hazards produced by household practices such as mixing ammonia and bleach; and potential contaminants in drinking water where families do not have municipal water. Parents, teachers and staff will receive interactive training relating to common environmental exposures, with discussions of recommended methods for reducing these exposures.

The project will be conducted from October 2011 through September 2012 and is a collaboration between the TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio – South Texas Environmental Education and Research Program, and the Webb County, Texas Head Start program.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell