April 17, 2006
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
‘ToxRAP’ Children’s Environmental Education Program Wins National Award
One of 14 programs honored by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
NEW BRUNSWICK - The ToxRAP Education Program, developed by the Center for School and Community Health Education at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health, has received a 2006 Children’s Environmental Health Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The award was one of just 14 given nationally to recognize innovative programs in outreach, education and intervention that protect children from environmental health risks.
“Protecting children from environmental health risks is fundamental to EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment,” said Dr. William H. Sanders III, acting director, Office of Children’s Health Protection and Environmental Education at the EPA. “These awards honor individuals, communities and organizations that are leaders in making our environment healthier for our children.”
The ToxRAP (Toxicology, Risk Assessment and Pollution) program provides educational modules to help students learn basic environmental health concepts through age-appropriate investigative science, math, health and language arts activities. Each three-week module of classroom instruction focuses on a case study adapted from real-life situations. The modules provide teaching techniques that give students first-hand experience in the processes and tools that scientists use to solve environmental health problems. The modules are available in English, Spanish-bilingual and all-Spanish versions. A related website, available in English, extends the curricula to the home with activities and games that children and their parents/guardians can use to build on the classroom experience.
“Students, in grades K-9, are a particularly vulnerable population for environmental health risks,” said Laura Hemminger, director of the Center for School and Community Health Education. “By giving them the knowledge and skills needed to understand the science involved, they are empowered to take the needed action to help control environmental health problems they may encounter.”
Since the ToxRAP Education Program began in 1994, approximately 4,300 teachers in 23 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico have received training on the ToxRAP curricular materials, impacting over 86,000 students.
The ToxRAP curriculum series was made possible by grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS0, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation, through the U.S. Department of Energy. The Spanish and bilingual versions were made possible with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, through the Association of Schools of Public Health. The website activities were made possible with support from the NIEHS Small Business Technology Transfer program. Dissemination of ToxRAP materials has been supported by the National Center for Research Resources at NIH, the NIEHS, the EPA and various foundation and corporations.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.