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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

$1.4 million boosts environmental ed

Area science, social studies, and health teachers and their students will benefit from a $1.4 million grant received by the Medical Center to teach students about environmental health issues.

The seven-year project, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, aims to prepare students for many of the decisions they'll be making as adults, regarding both their personal health and the well-being of society.

The new program, "My Environment, My Health, My Choices," will bring teams of science, health, and social studies teachers from 15 high schools and middle schools in the Rochester area together to work with Medical Center researchers.

"This is part of an effort to help educate children about environmental health issues, so they will know how to make reasonable decisions in the future," said Dina Markowitz, the program director, who is also director of community outreach and education programs for the University's Environmental Health Sciences Center.

"When most people consider environmental issues, they think simply of something like recycling," Markowitz said. "Most people don't have the knowledge or know-how to find answers to how their environment--including what they breathe, what they eat, and what they drink--affects their health. Students need to know that what they do and the knowledge they have can protect them from diseases that have an environmental component."

The groups will focus on environmental health problems relevant to the Rochester area. Each team will develop its own curriculum for use in its school; ultimately the course materials created here will be packaged together and made available to schools around the country.

The first group of teachers from five area high schools will begin training this summer. Middle school teachers will begin participating in 2003.

Schools interested in the program should contact Dina Markowitz at x5-3171,

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