We have seen it over and over at the LEAD Agency Community Garden. This year is no different. For the 4th season Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa County have allowed groups of children to come to our garden. They have dug and planted seeds, set out vegetables and flowers, weeded and stopped to celebrate toads and hollered out when they removed the wicked "devil's shoelace" from the plot.
But the most precious thing they do is when they line up in front of the brightly colored rain barrels to fill their watering cans. We have a collection of them, all different, as with the children, none the same. They are careful not to waste the water and they are careful not to drown the plants. Sometimes their shoes get wet in the work, but on those hot days absolutely nothing feels better than when they put the own hands in the water flow and then cool their faces down with it. I love that feeling myself. But it is a joy to see children enjoy the gifts water provides, always the plants first and then the relief and celebration of cool water themselves.
LEAD is mid-season with our fundraiser Garden Parties, with the June and July successes, we will have a Pile it On Salad Party in August and are delighted to announce that a Fish Fry will be held for the September Garden Party sponsored and prepared by the Afton Masonic Lodge with Joe Johnson cooking! ARKANGELO will be playing again for these events. After all these years with LEAD's work, it has been great to take time to host some parties, get together with friends and know there is more environmental work ahead of us, but to take time to celebrate what is being done. As with all of our events the public is always invited and encouraged to come.
We are also finding there are activists growing here too with more people aware, learning how to show it when they are reporting what they see to agencies, speaking up for their rights to clean water and clean air. LEAD is hosting a set of Activists Training sessions beginning with one for Youth with more to come. Be sure and let us know if you want in on them, or want to let us know how you are already activated.
One thing changed October 2017 and parents are going to want to know this. According to 310:512-1-3 Oklahoma has made it mandatory for all children six years and younger to have their blood lead checked. Here in Ottawa County that should be a no brainer, but according to Oklahoma State Department of Health's Antoinette Arenas only a fraction ( one third) of our children have been checked to see if they are being lead poisoned.
Activists? Where are you? Every mother needs to make sure this is done for their child. Lead poisoning can be prevented. But there is absolutely no way to know if your child is being poisoned without checking. Their futures require it. Blood is thicker than water. We all need water, but we never need lead in our blood. It can damage absolutely every organ in our body. Find out and get started on that right away. Get in that line and if your child tests positive for lead, you and the health department, us and every one we know will help figure out where it is coming from and begin the process of making that child, your child's personal environment safer.
Water may be precious but not more than your very own child. Let's all become activists on this, encourage every caretaker to get every child checked for lead. Imagine. Oklahoma got this one right. A rule that we can celebrate that will help our children be identified and helped while they are young.
It was at the Intertribal Environmental Council ITEC Conference this week I learned about Oklahoma's rule for lead testing all children, but I also had a chance to visit with others who will be presenting at our 20th National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek Sept. 25-26 at NEO and to catch up with people who encouraged us all to keep asking questions. Larry Tippet is the best at asking questions, and Garet Couch with Wind Environmental Services challenged me to see Tar Creek's Sister Site where he lives in Bonne Terre, Missouri.
National Geographic calls Bonne Terre Mine: "One of America's Top 10 Greatest Adventures." One of the world’s largest man-made caverns, founded in 1860 as one of history’s earliest deep-earth lead mines. This was the world’s largest producer of lead ore until it was closed in 1962." Upper levels are used for guided walking tours while lower levels form a billion gallon, seventeen-mile long lake, illuminated by stadium lighting with boat tours on the crystal clear water revealing abandoned shafts and equipment below. Get this: it is home to the largest fresh water scuba diving venue in the world!
Four hours away. Their advertisement doesn't mention chat piles and contaminated yard removal efforts by EPA and that a city of 60,000 people live on top of all of these mines. I have to go find their activists and see that precious water.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim