FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lead-Free NJ and East Trenton Collaborative to Commemorate Ongoing Partnership, Share Resources with Community Members
Heather Sorge | Lead-Free NJ Program Manager
TRENTON, April 8, 2022 — Lead-Free NJ (LFNJ) and the East Trenton Collaborative (ETC) will convene local community members on Saturday to commemorate the ongoing partnership between both organizations and share critical lead remediation resources. The free meet-and-greet event will take place at Trenton Water Works on Cortland Street from 11:00am to 12:30pm, and all are welcome to attend.
“Lead-Free NJ is honored to continue collaborating with the East Trenton Collaborative in addition to our partner organizations, including Isles, Inc.; the Trenton Health Team; and Trenton Water Works,” said LFNJ Program Manager Heather Sorge. “Effectively combating lead-contaminated water, paint, and soil requires not only a robust network of committed partners, but ongoing conversations with the communities that are directly affected by these issues as well. Events like this provide our organizations with the opportunity to meet the children and families for whom we are advocating and—most importantly—to learn from their experiences.”
No level of lead exposure is safe, and lead poisoning is especially detrimental to the physical and neurological development of children. Due to legacies of disinvestment and environmental injustice that persist today, children in low-income communities and communities of color are particularly at risk.
“In communities like Trenton, lead is a public health crisis,” said East Trenton Collaborative Program Director Caitlin Fair. “In the United States, one in three children have elevated lead levels, while over 3.6 million American homes with children contain significant lead hazards. The highest concentrations of these homes are in cities like Trenton, with aging housing stock and limited resources. In addition to the physical dangers of lead, elevated lead levels in children contribute to difficulty focusing, lower IQ, underperformance in school, and significant increases in aggression and behavioral issues. Correlations have even been found between lead poisoning and truancy, as well as jail time. We see the impacts of lead on our children and communities daily, as it contributes to many other challenges and issues that under-resourced communities face. In order to truly improve outcomes, we must start looking below the surface. Eradicating lead hazards in our communities needs to be a top priority for everyone, from residents to legislators and executives.”
“I remember when I was 11 years old, my aunt was crying because the doctors told her that her kids had lead poisoning from eating the paint off the wall in their home,” said East Trenton resident Kiera Stephens. “The doctor informed her that her children would never gain weight, and to this day they are still smaller than the average kids their ages.”
“I spend a lot of money on purchasing water, because the lead galvanized pipes are all throughout my house,” said another Trenton resident, who chose to remain anonymous. “I am a senior citizen with a lot of health issues already. I don’t want lead poisoning to be another issue.”
ETC is one of three LFNJ Community Hubs, local grassroots organizations that help define and advance the LFNJ collaborative’s yearly objectives and long-term goals. Each Community Hub participates in the statewide collaborative but also convenes to coordinate local efforts, strategize on solutions, and raise awareness about lead exposure among residents. Community Hubs’ specific plans are tailored to the needs of their distinct communities in Newark, Paterson, and Trenton.
Saturday’s meet-and-greet event will precede a larger community celebration of the partnership between LFNJ and ETC on May 14 in coordination with ETC’s Trenton Community BBQ and Watershed Cleanup Day. All are welcome to attend the May 14 event at no cost.
Lead-Free NJ was founded in 2021 as an equitable and inclusive collaborative. The organization works to ensure that New Jersey’s children are free from lead poisoning and that our environment is lead-safe by advocating for changes to state and local policy. Lead-Free NJ seeks to eliminate racial and economic inequities by focusing on legacy lead hazards in low-income communities and/or communities of color, while also creating the conditions for children to be free from lead poisoning statewide.