Spotlight: Lisa's Peer Education visits take off!

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Lisa Matthews' reputation as a connected community member precedes her—she has helped her neighbors access and navigate area resources for years.  Lisa dedicates her time to a lot of important community work. One priority is providing her neighbors with lead education visits.

Lisa was part of an inaugural group trained by the Healthy Homes Coalition’s Peer Education program this spring. Developed in partnership with the University of Michigan to help local families learn more about lead hazards in the community, these free lead education workshops take place in family’s homes and are conducted by a community peer educator. The educators are not Healthy Homes staff, but rather peers. More importantly, they are neighbors to the families with whom they are working. Since peer educators like Lisa live in high-risk lead areas, they have wide networks of friends, family, and neighbors to connect with about this important issue. 

Lisa says this has been a major key to the success of the program. “It’s easier to connect with people who share your experience... people that look and talk like you, and have a similar story to share,” says Lisa.  

Two years ago, Lisa became involved with Parents for Healthy Homesbecause her grandson had been exposed to lead.  She has been busy since then, graduating from Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) training, a national parent leadership program. She also helps lead the Parents for Healthy Homesadvocacy group and speaks out about the importance of protecting our community’s future to elected officials locally, in Lansing, and in Washington DC.

Since Lisa was already sharing her story through her work as a Parents for Healthy Homes leader, the Peer Education program easily mobilized her desire to help families.  Lisa’s passion for protecting children is what has helped make her visits so popular, welcome, and effective. As a result, she’s now getting word-of-mouth referrals and has to keep a waiting list of interested neighbors that want her to visit their homes.

Lisa and the inaugural class of community educators completed training this past spring and by the end of June 2019 had conducted 44 visits. Lisa has been instrumental in helping the group complete those visits in a matter of months by recruiting her husband, David. 

Lisa and the inaugural class of community educators completed training this past spring and by the end of June 2019 had conducted 44 visits. The group has connected a dozen homeowners to the Get the Lead Out! program for help with lead remediation. Lisa has been instrumental in helping the group complete those visits in a matter of months. Lisa enlisted people in her own networks, including her husband David, her sister Darnell and brother-in-law Ira as community educators to help spread the word about the dangers of lead.  Between the two of them, Lisa and her husband are responsible for more than 20 home visits.

Kids are hurting. What are you prepared to do? Reach out if you are interested in learning more about Peer Education and ways you can engage, be active and help!

 


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