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November 13, 2017   Inside UGA

UGA Extension, Rural Georgia Healthy Housing Advisory Board receive national recognition

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A team of University of Georgia family and consumer sciences experts has earned a national award for its efforts to create healthier and safer environments for children, both at home and in day care settings.

UGA Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agents Keishon Thomas and Mitzi Parker and Extension Housing Specialist Pamela Turner were honored Oct. 19 at the 2017 National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences annual session in Omaha, Nebraska. They received the National and Southern Region Environmental Education Award for their work with the Rural Georgia Healthy Housing Advisory Board. The award recognizes NEAFCS members for outstanding educational programs conducted for families and/or communities on various environmental issues concerning water quality, air quality, recycling and natural resource conservation.

"Rural Georgia Healthy Housing Advisory Board members focus on improving knowledge about how to make changes to the indoor environment that improve health," said Turner, who is also an associate professor in the financial planning, housing and consumer economics department in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. "Extension agents provide programs for child care providers and parents on reducing asthma triggers and poisoning hazards. This has led to action steps that result in healthier and safer environments for children."

Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, and almost 70 percent of their time in a home, according to the National Human Activity Pattern Survey. However, substandard living conditions and small nuances in the cleanliness of homes can result in respiratory illness, reproductive issues, neurological disorders and accidental injuries.

The Rural Georgia Healthy Housing Advisory Board works to increase awareness of the dangers lurking in Georgia homes. Since 2013, the board has promoted healthier and safer housing conditions in Georgia, particularly for low-income, children, elderly, minorities and other vulnerable populations living in rural communities. The board prioritizes educating parents and childcare providers about reducing exposure to environmental contaminants and hazards in childcare centers.

Board members include representatives from the Georgia Department of Public Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Houston County Habitat for Humanity, SupAid Community Resources and AT&T Pioneers. For the past two years, the board has partnered with the Georgia Healthy Housing Coalition to provide a healthy homes booth at the Georgia National Fair in Perry.