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In the Field: Training Parents as Community Health Workers to Protect Children from Environmental Hazards

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Training parents as community health workers


The downpours over the weekend ahead of Hurricane Florence did not dampen the spirits of the 14 farmworker parents participating in MCN’s Community Health Worker (CHWs) training in collaboration with East Coast Migrant Head Start Project. Alma Galván, MHC, Senior Program Manager for MCN, drove down to Virginia’s Eastern Shore to head up two workshops in two different towns, to equip farmworker parents with the information and tools to train other parents on keeping kids safe from pesticides and other chemicals.

 

In the field Training parents materials

 

“The parents were really engaged in the process,” Galván noted. The CHWs, parents who are part of the Migrant Head Start escuelitas, took advantage of on-site childcare so they could participate. After the three-hour training -- two hours on chemical safety and one hour on tips to share this information with others -- the parents committed to training ten or more fellow parents in their workplaces and communities to spread the messages of chemical safety and how to protect kids. “It was great to see the parents really trying to learn for the health of their kids and wanting to be a part of the solution.”

 

In the field training parents exercise

 

The training was part of MCN’s, “It Takes a Community: Protecting Farmworker Children from Environmental Contaminants,” an exciting initiative supported by the Aetna Foundation’s Cultivating Healthy Communities, and aiming to empower communities with the tools and resources needed to protect farmworker kids from chemical exposures. Under the program, MCN has also released a newly revised edition of our popular educational manual for promotores around environmental health and safety, “Poco Veneno...No Mata?”.

 

In the field training parents - group working

 

“The parents were thrilled to have such good quality materials,” Galván said, adding that all the resources provided are available on MCN’s site. (See below for resources.)  The parents will take the new knowledge and resources with them as they train in their communities and workplaces, which include such diverse locations as plant nurseries, fruit and vegetable packing plants, tomato farms, poultry processing plants, and aquaculture farms, in rural Virginia. The newly trained CHWs are set to provide their own trainings in the coming weeks, before the close of Migrant Head Start’s seasonal escuelitas at the end of October.

 

Resources: 
Here are the resources that participants are bringing with them to train their friends, neighbors, and coworkers on environmental health and ways to protect children.

Farmworker Justice’s brochures on lead, asthma, and chemicals, available in English and Spanish.

The Playing Field,” a short video (in Spanish, with English subtitles) about how agricultural worker children can be exposed to chemicals.

The newly updated Community Health Worker manual “Poco Veneno, No Mata.”

MCN’s popular comic book, “Aunque Cerca...Sano” available for download in Spanish and English.

 

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