Riverdale, MD – June 21, 2015 – History was recently made in the Washington DC metropolitan area of the United States as nearly 200 people drawn from different walks of life voluntarily pledged to save the environment in a historic ceremony marking the first-ever Health, Environmental Education and Awareness (HEEA) Day and Community Picnic celebrated in Riverdale, Maryland on Saturday, June 13, 2015.
HEEA Day 2015 and Community Picnic was aimed at educating and increasing citizen awareness on the individual and community health effects of intentional and unintentional environmental /waterways pollution, according to organizers, adding that it was also aimed at fostering the spirit of community and discussion of matters around the connection between our health and our environment.
HEEA Day 2015 was put together by a group of private citizen-volunteers, non-profit and faith-based organizations committed to fostering an inclusive community where all citizens live and thrive while saving the environment. The organizers were led by the Global Health and Education Projects, Inc., a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization based in Riverdale, MD, with major funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and other commercial organizations.
Welcoming participants to the event, the Mayor of the Host City—Riverdale Park, Mayor Vernon Archer, praised the organizers for bringing members of the community together not only to share in learning about our environment, health and the Chesapeake bay, but more so in fostering a sense of community in our city and its environs. He said that he would be looking forward to this event growing in the future into a forum that brings us together to cherish each other as members of one community.
Welcoming participants to the event, Council Member Danielle Glaros, Representing District 3 in the Prince George’s (PG) County Council, said that as a long-time resident of Riverdale and PG County, she was impressed seeing non-profit organizations like GHEP, organizing and bringing the best out of our multicultural communities. He advised participants to understand that protecting the environment and the Chesapeake Bay were intricately related to our health and the health of our neighbors.
Cross Section of some participants taking their pledge at HEEA Day 2015
Mayor Eugene W. Grant of the City of Seat Pleasant Maryland brought greetings from his residents and commended the organizers for harnessing the power of diversity in addressing a need in the area of sustainable health and environment. He commended his counterpart, Mayor Archer, for providing GHEP and other organizers the platform to put up what he described as a “beautiful event in a beautiful park.” Mayor Grant added that bringing communities together is at the foundation of our country and a value that should be espoused by all and sundry.
The event continued with interactive workshops led by three Guest Speakers drawn from the leading environmental and health organizations on different modifiable efforts and behaviors that community members can do to protect the Bay, our environment, and foster optimum health.
The first Guest Speaker was Mr. Vaughn Perry, a Director and Manager of Adult Education – Watershed Stewards Academy at the Anacostia Watershed Society who presented on the topic, “Water, Environmental Protection and Community Health: Making the Connections.”
The second Guest Speaker was Mr. Ronnie Webb, President and Co-Founder of The Green Scheme, Washington, DC spoke on the topic, “Water and Environmental Stewardship: Why does it Matter for our Community and for Our Health?”
The third Guest Speaker was Dr. Nkechi Enwerem, an Assistant Professor at Howard University’s College of Nursing and Allied Health, Washington, DC who spoke on “Your Health and Your Environment: Making the Connections.”
The event was attended by political leaders, faith-based leaders, community associations and other non-profit organization from different counties in Washington, DC metro area and Baltimore. Among the many special dignitaries at the event were Pastor Chidi Enwerem of This Generation Ministries, Lanham, MD; Dr. Clifford Thomas, a presidential award-winner and a long-time community leader from Bladensburg; Mr. Chris Osuji formerly of the PG County government; Mr. Jerry McLaurin and Ms. Sandy Pruitt both of Peoples for Change Coalition, a coalition of over 300 non-profit and citizen organizations based in PG County; Dr. Gopal Singh, and Dr. Magnus Azuine both of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“We have heard and seen it here today, that an event like HEEA should be an integral part of our community. The pledge we have taken indicates that our peoples, our communities, and our leaders are committed to saving our environment, and improving the quality of our waterways including the Chesapeake Bay,” said Dr. Romuladus E. Azuine, GHEP Founder and Executive Director.
“While we wait for the official program evaluation, I’ve heard from several attendees here today that they’d love this event to be an annual event,” said Sussan Ekejiuba, DVM, PhD, GHEP Program Director.
Dr. Azuine thanked all the political and non-profit leaders and volunteers for working extremely hard to make the day a resounding reality. He announced that with the success and lessons learned from the 2015 HEEA Day, the 2016 HEEA Day and Community Picnic would be even better for all of us to enjoy.
Using the Enviroscape model, Ms. Deborah Weller, Section Head for Community Outreach Promoting Empowerment at PG County’s Department of the Environment, demonstrated how pollution could lead to greater pollution of the Chesapeake Bay and potentially lead to both health and economic consequences for members of our community.
The event also provided avenue for sharing of resources for community members by numerous service-providers including PG County Department of Health, WIC program, CASA San Bernardo at St. Bernard Church, SEED Inc., Food Pantry at This Generation Ministries, Forever Living and health products, diaper distribution program by GHEP, Self-protection and environmental awareness by Tae Kwando Ramblers, and the Office of Council Member Glaros, among others.
GHEP is a US 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan, non-religious, charitable, educational, research, and development organization dedicated to eliminating inequalities in health and education among local communities in the USA and worldwide. GHEP addresses all aspects of educational and health inequalities affecting the most vulnerable individuals and populations in our communities. GHEP is piloting many research-informed intervention programs such as HEEA Day to engage diverse populations in issues around health and the environment, especially the Chesapeake Bay Waterways. Click here to read more about HEEA Day.