The Children’s Environmental Health Series consisted of three virtual events focused on the impact of environmental factors on children’s health and well-being. Hosted by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), this series engaged medical and public health professionals in discussions that explored prominent issues affecting marginalized people and presented evidence-based methods for integrating best practices for broad implementation.
The 2021 Children’s Environmental Health Series examined current social justice and environmental health issues impacting children and families as it relates to asthma and behavioral health, discussed successful community engagement strategies and explored the power of nature experiences on mental and physical health.
Participants included public health professionals, school nurses, physicians, administrators, mental health professionals, community health workers, and caregivers serving high-need populations disproportionately exposed to environmental health hazards.
As a maternal and infant community health nurse, this information was critically important to my work.
Influential and Knowledgeable Speakers
We welcomed speakers and panelists representing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USDA Forest Service, state health departments, and other prominent non-profit organizations, as well as Dr. Regina Benjamin, 18th Surgeon General of the United States and two-time NBA champion, Josh Powell.
Dr. Regina Benjamin opened the event discussing the effects of racial and social injustice, health disparities, and the equity gap on children’s health.
Closing the Gap in Achieving Health Equity
Panelists defined the health equity gap and examined the differential impact on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous children’s health and establish tactics for achieving health equity through action.
- Moderator: Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH, Children's Environmental Health Network
- Panelists: Rosemary Enobakhare, EPA; Elizabeth Clark, MSN, RN, National Association of School Nurses; I. Leslie Rubin, MD, Emory University; Sophia Smith, MD, Children's National Medical Center
Improving Asthma Outcomes with EXHALE Technical Strategies
EXHALE is a set of six strategies that each contribute to better asthma control. This session will introduce EXHALE and demonstrate how strategies can be used.
- Presenter: Joy Hsu, MD, CDC
State and City Asthma Programs
This session highlighted the success CDC partners have had with the EXHALE technical package rollout.
- Presenters: Benjamin Francisco, PhD, Missouri Department of Health; Sarah Geiger, PhD, Illinois Asthma Program; Wanda Rodríguez-Donham, DHSc, Florida Asthma Program
Interactive Session: Children's Environmental Health Hazards
This interactive session provided a brief overview of children's environmental health hazards and guided participants through five learning activities.
- Presenter: Dr. Natasha DeJarnett, Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, University of Louisville
Climate, Air Quality, and Children’s Health
Panelists discussed the intersections of climate change experienced directly through extreme weather events, heat waves, wildfires, hurricanes, and flooding—and indirectly through changes in air quality resulting in pollution—and the adverse impact on health for children with respiratory diseases such asthma.
- Moderator: Vernessa Perry, NEEF
- Panelists: Claudia Brown, MDH, CDC; Ananya Roy, PhD, Environmental Defense Fund; Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH, Children's Environmental Health Network; Tyra Bryant-Stephens, MD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
COVID-19, Nature Experiences, and Mental Health: Accessing Green Spaces for Mental and Physical Health Benefits
Experts discussed current threats to physical and mental health and their determinants while inspiring new possibilities for innovative care. Panelists examined best practices, individual actions, and the resourcefulness of nature and spending time outdoors as a tool for therapy.
- Moderator: Kristie Trousdale, MPH, Children's Environmental Health Network
- Panelists: Kathy L. Reiner, MPH, BA, BSN, RN; Sandy Marin, USDA Forest Service; Priya Cook, Children & Nature Network; Sophia Smith, MD, Children's National Medical Center
NBA CARES Spotlight
Dr. Kensa Gunter, clinical and sport psychologist and Director of NBA Mind Health, talks to Josh Powell, two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, about his personal story and the connection between emotional wellness and physical health. This pre-recorded discussion will focus on mental health issues and the importance of leveraging community resources to improve wellness.
Achieving Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Outdoor Spaces
Panelists will discuss intentional strategies being used to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds to increase access to parks and public lands.
- Moderator: Sara Espinoza, NEEF
- Panelists: Tinelle Bustam, PhD, US Forest Service; Subria Spencer, National Park Service; Meri-Margaret Deoudes, NEEF; Laura Flores, Latino Outdoors
Forest Bathing/Forest Therapy
This guided exercise introduces meditative practices for reconnecting with nature.
- Presenter: Tamberly Conway, Ph.D., Founder and CEO, Conservation Conexions, LLC, Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) Certified Guide