Diane Lewis is Healthy Child Healthy World’s June finalist for our 2014 Mom on a Mission® award. Read her first-person story below on how she became an advocate for children’s health.
By Diane Lewis, founder of The Great Healthy Yard Project
I raised my three children in the suburbs outside of New York City. When they were young, our family spent time in the Adirondacks so that my children developed a strong bond with nature. The Adirondacks seemed like pristine wilderness, a place where my children would be away from pollution and less in harm’s way. However, I learned that fertilizers and pesticides from neighboring homes found their way into a river that my children spent hours playing in during the summer months. I realized that keeping our children safe would take changing the mindset of a whole community, and improving water quality became of paramount importance to me.
To address this I became chair of the Water and Land Use task force of the nonprofit Bedford2020. I learned that every stream and lake in our country and half of our groundwater wells are contaminated with pesticides, and that 80 percent of groundwater wells contain drugs and household chemicals. These are the sources of our children’s drinking water . This residential pollution is the most widespread water quality problem facing the country.
New data shows that these chemicals harm us in minute amounts that were previously thought to be inconsequential by disrupting the hormonal system, derailing everything from neurologic development to growth and metabolism. Pregnant mothers and children are the most susceptible, and these chemicals have led to increases in breast and prostate cancer, neuro-developmental problems, and diabetes.
These chemicals are only in the water because we put them there. We don’t need them. I founded The Great Healthy Yard Project and authored a book of the same name to give us all a way to work together to make vast improvements in our water quality. How? Simply by pledging not to use these chemicals on our yards and gardens (except on rare occasions), and by not disposing of drugs down the drain. The book and the website give communities and neighbors the tools to talk to each other with readily understandable information supported by top tier medical journals. Support has come from municipal officials, garden clubs, and fellow doctors. Together we can give our children a brighter future by assuring them clean and healthy water.
Want to learn more about Diane? Read her official Mom on a Mission bio here.
Know an amazing mom who is making a difference? Nominate her to be one of our Mom on a Mission® finalists! Learn more about Healthy Child Healthy World’s 2013 Mom on a Mission campaign by visitingHealthychild.org/mission. A special thank you to our sponsors Ology.