Outreach and Education

Community Outreach and Education Core
Core Director: Judith T. Zelikoff, Ph.D.
Specific Aims:

The overall goal of the NYU Center Community Outreach and Education Core (COEC) is to translate, communicate, and disseminate Environmental Health Science and our Center's scientists' knowledge and expertise to insure greater community wisdom and awareness. This COEC has a continuing commitment to Environmental Health Science, particularly in translating toxicology research to target populations. This COEC will continue to address the public's knowledge gaps about Environmental Health in the form of science advice to communities and policy makers, Web-based and traditional Environmental Health education, and assistance to communities facing environmental adversities. However, the emphasis of this COEC will be geared towards translating research information and expertise that exists at the NYU-NIEHS Center into actions to improve public health in Cr-impacted populations. The focus will be on underserved minority residents of Jersey City (Hudson County, NJ) who are concerned with, and/or exposed to, Cr-contaminated waste sites. More than 3 million tons of Cr waste were generated and distributed throughout Hudson County, the most urbanized and densely populated county in NJ. The COEC has initiated a dialogue with the "not-for-profit" Interfaith Community Organization (ICO), as well as with GRACO (Jersey City Neighborhood Group), and the Jersey City Garfield Avenue Chromium Coalition (GA-CC; a localized alliance of Jersey City residents). Through the Consultant activities of Dr. Costa and the Governing Body of Jersey City, we have also begun to "build bridges" with Jersey City Deputy Mayor Kibili Tayela who is helping COEC to engage other Civic Groups that will reach different populations (see letters of support below). These groups provide the pathway by which our Center can reach concerned communities and other interested parties that are currently exposed to - or worried about - possible Cr exposure. Via the Outreach Core External Advisory Board, comprised in part of Hudson County community leaders/members, and the use of a written "Needs Assessment" questionnaire that will be provided to residents, this COEC can distinguish and target those issues of greatest concern to impacted communities. The Center embodies a diverse range of scientific expertise, and is therefore capable of addressing community concerns on several scales. In this manner, we utilize our Center resources and expertise to provide unbiased and accurate information about environmental health risks to the public.
Link to Past COEP Activities

The following three Specific Aims are proposed:

Specific Aim 1:

Educate Cr-impacted NJ communities-at-large, local workers, health professionals and both community and ICO leaders about the prevalence/site location of Cr contamination in Hudson County and surrounding NJ areas, as well as educate about the potential health effects from exposure, through Forums, Workshops, and Educational Events at local schools, churches, and hospitals. To ensure active participation by members of the Cr-impacted communities, all outreach initiatives will be guided by the results of Website surveys assessing community concerns and a written "Needs Assessment" questionnaire distributed to the targeted community prior to any community activity. These assessment tools will be developed and validated by our Educational Evaluator (Dr. Solomon).

A sub-aim of the NYU COEC will be to aid in an ICO initiative to identify, evaluate, and prioritize other potential Cr- (and, if requested, other metal-) bearing hazardous waste sites (and surrounding areas) in NJ. Members of the Center will serve as a resource to the ICO leaders by providing scientific information concerning potential human health effects, national standards, potential risks, and cleanup alternatives of the waste site-associated chemicals. 

Specific Aim 2:

Establish an interactive Website that provides educational materials and presentations aimed at empowering Community Assistance Leaders, Outreach Assistance Providers, and Citizen Leaders to educate citizens about Cr-contaminated sites in/near their neighborhoods and/or workplaces. The Website will also provide surveys (in English and Spanish) that can be downloaded and used to help assess community concerns. Assessment results will be used by the COEC to drive individual Cr-related outreach initiatives.

Specific Aim 3:

Project the NYU-NIEHS Center's scientific expertise to students, policymakers, and communities (in addition to Cr-impacted communities in Aims 1 and 2) to help bridge the gap between researchers and non-scientists. This Aim seeks to continue to raise awareness of the NYU Center as a scientific resource in the region. Encompassed within this aim are several ongoing and continuing COEC initiatives (i.e., "Science in Action", student mentoring, Center Member presentations/advice on Environmental Health issues to communities and policymakers, Occupational and Environmental Health Clinic, and World Trade Center Residents Health Study). Outgrowths of these continuing initiatives will also be included as part of this Aim, e.g., partnership with New York-Presbyterian Lang Youth Medical Program.

The organizational structure of our NYU-NIEHS Center COEC Program is displayed in the diagram below:

COEC_structure

The Outreach Director (Dr. Zelikoff), with input from the COEC Center's Internal and External Advisory Committee, will determine the overall direction of the NYU NIEHS Center COEC activities. The COEC Internal Advisory Committee (IAC), comprised of community-involved members of the Center, including Drs. Wirgin, Klein, Thurston, and Zelikoff, along with the Scientific Educator, Educational Evaluator, Program Associates, Web Designer, an NIEHS post-doctoral trainee, and 2 pre-doctoral candidates will meet regularly to discuss community concerns, evaluate present outreach initiatives, and plan future efforts. The faculty members of this IAC have been active in, and recognized for, conducting Outreach by participating as scientific advisors, serving on local panels that advise schools and local communities, and contributing expert advice on environmental issues in NJ and the greater regional New York City (NYC) metropolitan area.

For more information on current community outreach projects please visit our center's Community Outreach and Education Core (COEC).