Why Parent Voices Matter More


Two stories featuring parents who are fighting to end childhood lead poisoned were told in local news this past week.

Tabitha Williams, a leader in the grassroots parent group, Parents for Healthy Homes, won an award from WMEAC’s Women in Environment Symposium.

Lyree Adams, a local mother, shared the story of her daughter Larissa’s lead poisoning due to lead paint on windows in their home.

These two stories represent the voices of parents whose children are directly affected by the threat of lead poisoning in the community. They are just two of thousands more in the city.

The Healthy Homes Coalition recognizes that progress is being made; there is marked progress happening in Grand Rapids. As the state, city, and county are all working to draft and revise lead policy, parents need to be at the center of the dialogue. Too often, they currently are not. 

At the end of the day, lead poisoning matters most to those who can't leave lead behind at the end of the day. Parents are putting their kids to bed in homes with lead hazards, and waking up unsure of how to fix them. 

As much as we would really like to help solve the problem, it really it isn't the nonprofit groups, government, or the task forces with something real at stake. It’s the parents of the hundreds of kids in Kent County who live in homes with lead hazards who are being affected today.

For parents, this issue is urgent.

Parents are the ones who can share first-hand stories.

Parents are the ones who know both the specific barriers to creating change, and the gaps still needed to be filled.

Parents are the ones who love their own children fiercely, and will stop at nothing to protect them, just like you would. 

Because of that, it's parents who can create lasting change, and they are working towards it. 

As parent Tabitha Williams said in her award acceptance speech addressing parents, "I have hope for change and I believe it starts with us."

Nonprofit groups, government, and the task forces are working to solve this problem. As we do that, we need to remember that all the planning in the world won't work if our proposed solutions do not meet with the real experiences and stories of parents. The change we'd like to see won't happen.

Listening and engaging parents and designing solutions that work with them is the only way that we will see an end to lead poisoning.

Kids are being hurt, and we need to start listening to and involving parents today.


Interested in getting involved?

Parent for Healthy Homes, Tabitha and LyRee's active parent group, meets every second Monday of the month at 5:00pm at the Healthy Homes Coalition offices, 1545 Buchanan SW Suite #2 Grand Rapids, MI 49507.

Free dinner and childcare are provided. If you are a parent and would like to join, contact Talor Musil.