Parent Group Set to Develop Legislative Initiative

On Tuesday, February 8, 2011, Imagine Englewood if kicks off a six-week series of free Lead Awareness and Prevention workshops for families of lead-poisoned children.  “Self, Family and Team” is the theme, and marks the first phase of a parent-driven initiative to increase screenings and treatment for children of the Greater Englewood community.  The workshops, made possible through the Woods Fund of Chicago, will be presented by Idida Perez, community organizer and Executive Director of West Town Leadership United in Humboldt Park.

Latest figures from Chicago’s Department of Public Health indicate that with less than half of Englewood’s children, ages 0-6, screened for lead-poisoning in 2008, 12.7% recording elevated blood levels.  Since then, budget cuts have resulted in even fewer screenings.  The primary objective of the workshops is to empower parents to advocate on behalf of the children in the Greater Englewood community through changes in public policy.  “Parents need to know their rights, the remedies available to them, and what they can do to strengthen and improve current lead-prevention laws,” stated Jean-Carter-Hill, co-founder and Executive Director of Imagine Englewood if. . . !

D.E.A.R. (Driving Englewood Above the Rim) is a parent support group formed in response to complaints from parents whose children tested positive for lead.  Originating a few years ago at Nicholson Technology Academy in Englewood, D.E.A.R. is now being restructured to include parents and families across Greater Englewood as a depository for their concerns and as an advocacy training program.  Mrs. Hill and Imagine Englewood if played a significant role in the formation of D.E.A.R., and the organization remains a potential vehicle of change to this day.

Lead-poisoning is linked to life-long learning and behavior problems, as well as criminal activity which frequently leads to incarceration.  A new study of third graders in the Chicago Public Schools finds strong and significant links between lead poisoning levels and failure rates on third grade reading and math tests, due to early exposure to lead at very low levels.  Other reports suggest that Greater Englewood ranks highest in the nation for lead-poisoning from old housing stock, much of which has been decimated by demolition, and now lays toxic in the soil.  There are currently 3700 vacant lots in Greater Englewood, where children play and residents, especially the elderly, grow vegetables to be ingested by the entire family.  For many residents, poverty limits any opportunity to relocate or renovate their dwellings.

“By the end of the year, we plan to take D.E.A.R. to Springfield as a powerful voice for positive change,” said Mrs. Hill.  “And while we focus on families of lead-poisoned children, we invite all people of good will to join us in support of a Lead-free Englewood Legislative Initiative.  We won’t stop until Greater Englewood is lead-free!” Mrs. Hill concluded.

If your family or friends have been affected by lead poisoning, please join D.E.A.R. in fighting this scourge upon our community.  Five additional workshops are scheduled for February 15th and 22nd, and March 8th, 15th and 22nd, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon, at Imagine Englewood if, 6720 S. Stewart Ave., in Chicago, Il  60621.  A continental breakfast will be served.  To register, call 773.488.6704, FAX:  773.488.6705; e-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and/or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Please check regularly for the full calendar on IEi’s website: