The Flint Water Crisis is a tragedy in so many ways. Many communities have helped out by sending bottled water to the residents of Flint. This is a solution for the near term, but long range problems also need to be addressed. Due to the exposure to lead in Flint’s drinking water, children’s health is a major concern and it is anticipated that there may be many significant educational issues that result.
Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha discovered the alarming levels of lead in the drinking water. On National Public Radio this past weekend Hanna-Attisha said, “What we are trying to do is we are trying to throw every single evidence-based intervention at these children. And they encompass education, so early literature programs, and universal preschool and nutrition access and access to mental health services. All of these things are known to help children who are at risk for developmental disabilities.”
An initiative has been started in Allegan County to aid the children of Flint. For the month of February “Fighting Lead with Literacy”, will collect new books and send them to Flint families. Many homes in Flint are without an adequate amount of children’s books; some homes have none. Exposure to literature in the home is a foundational cornerstone of learning.
Allegan Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Harness stated, "Our students wanted to be involved in the effort to help the students of the Flint area. With the possibility of lead exposure potentially causing cognitive disorders in small children, they decided to show their support by collecting books, in the hopes that it would help their continued academic development—even after the water crisis has been alleviated.”
Community members can help by donating books at one of the convenient drop off locations in Allegan County from February 1 - 26. The donation boxes will be collected and transported to Flint for distribution to families in need. Financial contributions will also be accepted, with that money being used to purchase age appropriate books. Drop off locations include Allegan Public Schools, Martin Public Schools, Otsego Public Schools, and the Allegan County Area Technical & Education Center. Barnes and Noble stores in Portage and Flint will also be joining the initiative. Additional drop-off locations can be found at www.alleganaesa.org/books