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Potential effects of environmental injustices on health and academic achievement in head start students in Detroit, Michigan: Strategies to create environmental justice

Bree C. Kessler, MSW1, Bunyan Bryant, PhD2, Dale Fitch, MSW, PhD1, Elaine M. Hockman, PhD2, Laura Kohn-Wood, PhD3, Theresa Ronquillo, MSW1, Michael Spencer, MSW, PhD4, and Jessie Urban5. (1) School of Social Work/Environmental Justice Initiative, University of Michigan, 1080 S. University, #2675, ann arbor, MI 48109, 734-615-4666, bckessler@hotmail.com, (2) School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Michigan, 430 east university, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, (3) Psychology Department, University of Michigan, 1080 S. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, (4) University of Michigan School of Social Work, 1080 South University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106, (5) School of Public Health and School of Social Work, University of Michigan, 1080 South University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

The Family Development Project/Head Start-Environmental Justice Initiative project presents an innovative and interdisciplinary community-based methodology for examining the potential effects of environmental hazards on health and academic achievement in Head Start students in Detroit, Michigan. In our study, we utilize data from the University of Michiganís Environmental Justice Initiative (EJI) and information available from the University of Michiganís Family Development Project/Head Start (FDP/HS) databases in order to assess the extent of impact of environmental hazards on child behavior and academic achievement. According to our preliminary data analysis, areas in Wayne County with Head Start students have a statistically significant greater density of environmental hazards and have greater health risks compared to Wayne country zip codes without Head Start schools. In fact, according to our data, pollution density and health risk factors for a given zip code can predict whether or not the zip code has Head Start students. This linkage is profoundly important given that environmental injustices, which notably impact physical health, may present a significant barrier to academic achievement of low-income, students of color. This project further illustrates how to address health disparities concerns not only through multi-level quantitative and qualitative data, but also through an initiative that aims to educate, empower, and create change in the community. The long-term outcome of this project is to reduce the impact of environmental hazards in the neighborhoods surrounding Head Start sites, so that community members, especially children, are not vulnerable to preventable health risks that affect their ability to achieve academically.

Learning Objectives:

  • At the conclusion of our interactive session, participants of will be able to

    Keywords: Environmental Justice, School Health

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    Environmental Injustices: Highlights of Community Efforts To Reduce Health Disparities

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA