Picente: County’s LEAD OUTreach Project Promotes Awareness on Lead

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr., today announced the beginning of Oneida County’s LEAD OUTreachProgram, which will use participants in the Oneida County Summer Youth Employment Program to distribute lead poisoning prevention awareness information to households in Utica. 

“Oneida County’s LEAD OUTreach project is designed to work with the Health Department to take information on lead poisoning prevention and get it into the hands of people living in the highest-risk areas of Utica,” Picente said. “Youth participants will be involved in distributing the literature door-to-door, and also in assisting the Health Department to survey neighborhood residents regarding their knowledge of lead hazards. The results of these surveys will assist the Health Department to better understand how residents are responding to the message we have been sending.”

“Community education and community outreach are two very important parts of Oneida County’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and this partnership helps us accomplish both of these goals,” said Oneida County Director of Health Dr. Gayle Jones. “The Oneida County Health Department has been a leader in working with the community to address the lead poisoning situation, and this new initiative expands our partnerships to provide lead prevention education to our constituents.”

Oneida County Director of Workforce Development David Mathis said the project fulfills multiple goals. “We want the youth to work, and we also want them to see what they can accomplish through their work,” he said. “In this project, the youth will be making a difference in the community, they will be learning about an important community issue, and they will be learning about public policy through the survey. We’re very happy to work on the project team.”

MVCC President Randall VanWagoner said the project is the type of community-college partnership he had in mind when the college opened its Community Training Site at 524 Elizabeth St. “A community college should be making a difference in its community, and we have been using our community training site as a focal point for providing instruction to contractors about working with lead. This new project adds one more dimension to our efforts.”
Picente noted that project partner Mohawk Valley Community College is providing some training to youth involved in the survey project, so that they can better understand the dangers of lead and the importance of their work. “We are not only sharing important information, we are also empowering the youth of our community to understand the problem and help us take action,” Picente said. “When the youth can be part of a major effort that is aimed at their friends, their neighbors and their families, it makes this project very real for them. We appreciate MVCC offering this training at no cost to the project.”
Picente said that a group of about 20 Summer Youth Employment Program participants will prepare and distribute packets of literature in parts of Cornhill, West Utica and East Utica   beginning the week of July 26th based on the Health Department’s GIS mapping of high risk areas. Youth will continue working on the project through mid-August, when the Summer Youth Employment Program ends. The YouthBuild Program operated by the Workforce Investment Board will also provide about 10 older youth to help with the project.

“This project represents an outstanding partnership of agencies to help the people of Utica gain a better understanding of the dangers of lead and how to live and work lead-safe,” Picente said. “Through the LEAD OUTreach project, we can improve the health and safety of the people of our community.”