From: California Safe Schools
Published November 27, 2012 03:11 PM

Children's Environmental Health & Environmental Justice Champion Honored for Overcoming a Medical Challenge, and then Giving Back.

LOS ANGELES, CA- WebMD Health Heroes awards celebrate extraordinary Americans who met a health challenge and gave back to others in an inspiring way. The 2012 WebMD Health Heroes  include Robina Suwol and the organization she founded in 1998, California Safe Schools.

“WebMD health heroes are inspiring individuals who encourage health and wellness in each of their communities,” Clare Martorana, Editor in Chief of WebMD the Magazine said in a press release. “We are excited to celebrate their continued achievements and support their goals to make an impact in the lives of those facing their own health challenges.”

Robina Suwol's  efforts began in 1998 with the Los Angeles Unified School District (2nd largest school district in the nation), where she  spearheaded groundbreaking efforts to protect the health of  children  and vulnerable communities throughout California and the  nation. The diverse children’s coalition she founded, California  Safe Schools  ( includes more than fifty  organizations.

CSS began one  day in March, 1998, when grade school students encountered an LAUSD gardener in a hazardous materials suit who was spraying the herbicide Princep. The students ended up walking through a cloud of  pesticide mist on their way to their classrooms.

Several parents who had dropped off their children at the school  were alarmed to witness this event. One of them was Robina Suwol,   whose sons, ages six and ten, were forced to walk directly through the cloud.   Later, her youngest son, Nicholas, whose asthma had been under   control, experienced a severe asthma attack. Robina’s research on a  Cornell University website revealed that a single exposure to   Princep could cause tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and other   symptoms.

With no litigious motives, only a desire to protect students,   teachers, staff and residents near school sites, Robina led  parents  to investigate. They learned that many chemical pesticides  commonly  used in schools posed risks to growing  children, including risks of cancer and learning disabilities

With the support of the School Board, a committee was formed. One year to the date that Nicholas became ill, California Safe Schools and LAUSD created the most stringent pesticide policy in the nation  for schools. The policy was the first in the USA that embraced the  "Precautionary Principle" and "Parents Right to Know" regarding   pesticides in schools. To ensure implementation, a fifteen-member  oversight committee was formed. The committee meets monthly and  members include parents, community members, and environmentalists.

The success of the policy led to California legislation, the Healthy  Schools Act 2000, and AB 405, which was spearheaded by Robina and California  Safe Schools. This latter law prevents experimental , conditional or phased  out pesticides  from being   used on any K-12 California public school campus. As a result, 6 million  students, and hundreds of thousands of teachers and school  employees,  are protected. These efforts have had enormous success  and become a model for protecting  human health and the environment, not only in California  but throughout the nation and internationally. On March 30, 2012,  California Safe Schools celebrated fourteen years of  success..

"It was a tremendous honor to be recognized by WebMD, and  we greatly appreciate their  generous  $2500. donation  to California Safe Schools," Suwol says, "As rates of childhood cancer, asthma, neurological disorders, endocrine and hormonal disorders and birth defects increase, there is no better time than now to protect our children's health.”

Other 2012 WebMD Health Heroes:

Bonnie Addario, a lung cancer survivor and founder of the Bonnie J. Addario Foundation

Richard and Debra Siravo, who established  the Matthew Siravo Memorial Foundation – The Matty Fund – a nonprofit that provides services to children and families affected by epilepsy

Bonnie Stehr, a founder of the 90–day Olympic Weight Loss Challenge, a community-wide weight loss competition complete with cash prizes and fund-raising for charity.

For further information:

2012 WebMD Heroes:

California Safe Schools


Robina Suwol YouTube


Contact Info:

Website : California Safe Schools

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