Dear President Elect Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama,
Jim and I wanted to share some very exciting news. Healthy Child Healthy World (formerly CHEC) has been given four stars on Charity Navigator -- the highest rating bestowed. We are so proud!
We know that you and Michelle have expressed your concern and shared our commitment that every child deserves to grow-up in a clean environment and be able to: consume food grown without harmful chemicals, drink water without fearing contamination from heavy metals and industrial waste, and breathe unpolluted air.
These are basic human rights yet the average family cannot afford some of the safeguards we at Healthy Child recommend. Things like organic food, consumer products free of harmful chemical ingredients, and many others listed in our new book Healthy Child Healthy World Creating A Cleaner Greener Safer Home.
Thanks to Michelle's special contribution as a visionary voice, our book is now in it's third printing. And in People she was quoted having confirmed, "The number of children with asthma has more than doubled since the 1980s.. We need to make their environments healthier."
We share your concern and wish every parent in America could share the benefits of prevention through education. Those who can access the Internet may learn simple ways to do this via Healthy Child's website www.healthychild.org. But for those millions of parents who are struggling to make ends meet, day-to-day survival is much more urgent; buying organic food or finding a computer and the time to educate oneself about prevention is far more challenging.
At a time when our nation's economy dictates cutting back, for some that just might mean less money spent on recreational pleasures and toys. But for most parents, ensuring health care for the entire family -- this is the only insurance they have to protect their children.
The sad news is that our children's health is suffering due to the inexplicable amounts of toxic chemicals that are released into the environment. Only half of all chemicals have undergone toxicity testing, but less than 1 in 5 have been tested for possible toxicity to children.
In 1995, Senator Barbara Boxer introduced legislation in the United States Senate in memory of our daughter, Colette Chuda. The Children's Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) was the first amendment to safeguard children from toxins in the environment. This vanguard legislation contains language inclusive of children and their unique vulnerabilities. It was later amended onto other bills to support children's disproportionate physiological needs, as well as other vulnerable subsets of the population, such as pregnant women and the elderly.
As parents who lost a child to cancer in 1991, we believe that Colette would have survived had we had the knowledge and tools Healthy Child provides parents today.
In the mid-eighties, we were all living in a "toxic soup." Few knew about the harmful dangers of living with and around a perversity of chemicals -- and fewer knew about the compounded exposures due to their cumulative effects. It took time for scientific studies to reveal that chemicals are now known to be a major cause of cancer and it took even more time to prove that heredity may predispose cells and DNA to cancer.
Many years ago we decided we weren't going to let our personal tragedy, losing our only child to a non-hereditary cancer, beat us.
Instead, we decided to set some winning goals -- to help others -- so that other children would not have to experience our daughter Colette's fate.
Colette's favorite color was green. Had she survived, this year, she would have been twenty-three. And like your beautiful girls, someday she would have aspired to enter the work force and follow your encouraging lead for change: the chance to reinvent the environment, solve the energy crisis, create global business opportunities, fortify a world in transition, become "green."
Both you and Michelle have a great opportunity ahead. As young parents and our nations leaders, as President elect and First Lady, you can reach out to all parents, and offer a heath care plan that includes prevention through education.
This year, we invite you to share the news that Healthy Child will expand its knowledge base throughout the entire world by:
* launching the new Health eHome program in partnership with WebMD, reaching millions per week;
* collaborate on the groundbreaking National Children's Study that will collect health and environmental data on over 100,000 children in the U.S. for over 20 years;
* participate and partially fund the creation of the Autism Discovery Project at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; and
* nationally advocate and promote the Kids Safe Chemicals Act, federal legislation designed to protect children from risky chemicals in everyday products by making manufacturers prove products are safe before they land on store shelves.
I wanted to share our story with the hope that together we can build a stronger alliance to protect children's health. We want to partner with you and your new team -- build a solid relationship with the Environmental Protection Agency and continue to work with the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences--to provide a solid platform for this change.
The pain that fueled our passion began in 1991 when a group of committed family and friends stood by us and said,
"What can we do to help?"
It is hard to measure or put a price tag on the word, "trust."
Because of their trust we are saving lives.
On January 20th, 2009 we will be standing amongst thousands of people, citizens of the world, parents and grandparents watching in person, as you take your oath for the highest office in our land, president of the United States of America.
Our greatest hope as parents first and foremost, you and Michelle will take this historic opportunity and seize the moment to inspire millions of other parents to become better informed to protect children from harmful chemicals. And as our President and First Lady -- you will empower others to defend the rights of those who are too vulnerable to protect themselves. Children.
We wish you and your family the greatest gift of all. Great health. And to create a healthy world for all children for all time.
This is our hope and our promise.
Co-founder of Healthy Child Healthy World
and The Colette Chuda Environmental Fund
A HuffPo Blogger since 2005