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by Robina Suwol Friday, Sep. 26, 2003 at 11:28 AM 818-785-5515 Box 2123 - Toluca Lake, California 91610

Four Los Angeles Unified School District schools won national recognition for their outstanding environmental work. Aldama and Fernangeles Elementary, Millikan, and Sun Valley Middle Schools, are among the first schools to participate in the national Green Flag Program, which works with schools to teach kids a hands-on approach to solving environmental health problems before they start.

LOS ANGELES, CA - Four Los Angeles Unified School District schools won national recognition for their outstanding environmental work. Aldama and Fernangeles Elementary, Millikan, and Sun Valley Middle Schools, are among the first schools to participate in the national Green Flag Program,

which works with schools to teach kids a hands-on approach to solving environmental health problems before they start.

At an award ceremony at Fernageles Elementary, California Safe Schools' Executive Director, Robina Suwol, presented the four schools with awards for their achievements.

The program also presented LAUSD Director of Environmental Health and Safety Angelo Bellomo, and California Safe Schools a Certificate of Recognition for their outstanding environmental health efforts. In 1999 California Safe Schools worked with Los Angeles Unified School District (2nd largest in the nation with 800 school sites) to create the most stringent pesticide policy in the nation for schools. The policy embraces the "Precautionary Principle" , Parents Right to Know, and to ensure implementation a fifteen member Pest Management Team meet monthly.

Suwol, the Executive Director of California Safe Schools, a coalition of forty organizations, became involved with environmental issues when her son Nicholas age six, was sprayed with pesticides by a Los Angeles Unified gardener in a hazardous material suit as he entered school. Nicholas, whose asthma was ordinarily under control suffered a severe attack. One year from the date of this incident, the Los Angeles Unified School Board by unanimous decision adopted an Integrated Pest Management Policy (IPM), which has become the model for school districts, and communities throughout the nation.

The Green Flag Program was founded by Lois Gibbs, the activist and housewife who 25 years ago battled toxic waste in Love Canal, New York, and won. Robina Suwol worked with Gibbs to bring the program to Los Angeles.

"There are many school programs that teach young people about the environment, the Green Flag Program is the first that teaches them how the environment affects their health. In this program, students learn how to prevent environmental health problems before they start. California Safe Schools is proud to work with CHEJ to help implement the program in the Los Angeles Unified School District, said Robina Suwol."

Through the Green Flag Program, kids become detectives, proactively investigating potential environmental hazards, such as pesticide spraying, toxic cleaning products, and mold,and stopping them before they become a problem. The program encourages students to work with teachers, administrators, parents, businesses, and community members to ensure their school environment is safe and healthy.

Gibbs was inspired to create the Green Flag Program after the Child Proofing Our Communities Campaign, which she founded, reported that in hundreds of schools across country, children were experiencing environmental hazards that were making them sick. "One after another, we heard horror stories of kids sick with rashes, asthma, or worse," said Gibbs.

When it became clear that many of these problems could be prevented, Gibbs decided to start a program to teach school communities to take precautions.

"The Green Flag Program is dedicated to hands on education," said Robina Suwol, of California Safe Schools. "Kids learn about environmental health threats by investigating their own surroundings, and learn how to ask for safer alternatives. This is so much more than facts and figures - it's about teaching the kids to be good citizens."

Nicholas Baker, of Millikan Middle School Performing Arts Magnet added , "The Green Flag program is fun. It protects our environment and keeps everyone at school healthy. Our school is very proud to be an original member of the program, and be a student in a district that knows it always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to kids, and teachers health."

For more information on California Safe Schools, see

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California Safe Schools original author is Suwol Wednesday, Feb. 04, 2004 at 1:18 PM
Not for Profit California Safe Schools Reggie Ellers Friday, Oct. 22, 2004 at 4:46 PM

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