R.I. Department of Health grants $42K for state climate change projects

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Department of Health has awarded $42,680 in grants to 10 local groups to work on projects related to climate change education and community resilience aimed at helping communities prepare for, respond to and recover from the adverse health effects of climate change.

The grants will fund 10 projects across the state. The work of the awardees will focus on various communities, including the Cape Verdean community, people who are incarcerated, young people, senior citizens and residents more vulnerable to heat and flooding.

“The wide-ranging public health effects of climate change impacting Rhode Islanders include harm to our food and water supply; increases in diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and other insects; and increases in extreme weather events. Worse yet, certain communities will bear a disproportionate burden of the increases in injuries and diseases that we expect, and are already seeing in some cases. These communities include lower-income Rhode Islanders, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions,” said Director of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. “The Department of Health is funding these 10 innovative projects because public health is most successful when it is grassroots and community-driven. The entire state needs to mobilize together if we want to create a healthy, sustainable and resilient future for all Rhode Islanders.”

Grantees will work to build communities that are better prepared for disasters, and that are able to recover in ways that address the socio-economic and environmental factors that make some individuals more vulnerable to climate change to begin with. Examples of these socio-economic and environmental factors include transportation, education, employment opportunities, safe and healthy housing, and access to healthy food.

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The awardees and grants:

  • The town of Barrington, $4,900: Barrington Emergency Preparedness Week: Health Risks in a Changing Climate. Barrington will provide a series of workshops that will raise awareness and discuss specific steps residents can take to prevent or mitigate health threats from a variety of climate-related events.
  • Bristol Fire Department, $2,000: Know Your Neighbor Campaign. This project will present several workshops to seniors throughout the community to improve emergency preparedness within the first 72 hours of an emergency event, and to provide information about temperature extremes and floods.
  • Garden Time, $4,705: Climate Change Education through Inmate Programming. Garden Time provides garden programs for incarcerated men and women at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institutions. Garden Time students will conduct an environmental messaging campaign within the prison and beyond.
  • Groundwork RI, $4,851: Educating Green Team Youth about Climate Resiliency. Groundwork RI will engage Green Team members in learning and communicating about climate resiliency and tick-borne illnesses, and will develop a workshop to present to young audiences.
  • Neighborworks Blackstone Valley, $4,851: Engaging Youth to Increase Knowledge of Emergency Preparedness. Ten resiliency ambassadors will learn about resiliency and emergency preparedness, and will design creative strategies to reach families in northern Rhode Island.
  • NobidadeTV, $4,800: New Challenges, New Media, New Conversations: Cape Verdeans Talk Climate Change in Rhode Island’s Urban Cores. NobidadeTV is the longest-running Cape Verdean television program in the United States, started in Rhode Island in 1988. NobidadeTV will use its programming to deepen public awareness and knowledge of climate-related issues through video productions that will run on television, YouTube and Twitter.
  • Providence Housing Authority, $4,888: Senior Resiliency Education and Integration. The Providence Housing Authority will integrate best practices from the Senior Resiliency Project into its Emergency Operations Manual and will reduce its residents’ vulnerability to extreme heat by providing educational materials and air conditioning brackets.
  • Smithfield Emergency Management Agency, $1,950: Monitoring and Responding to Extreme Heat Events. This project will allow the Smithfield Emergency Management Agency to develop a portable cooling center, create a road race event alert system to monitor weather and to assess residents’ food safety after a power loss.
  • Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, $4,900: Bringing New Voices to the Water Table: Olneyville Resists Sea Level Rise with Resilience. A new initiative, “New Voices at the Water Table” will build residents’ confidence in their ability to keep families safe from flooding and will engage residents at “Nature at Work” tours and local events.
  • Young Voices, $4,835: Youth Outreach on Summer Heat. For 11 years, Young Voices has empowered more than 650 low-income youth to achieve, succeed and become confident civic leaders. Youth Voices will advocate for policy change related to summer air quality alert days and will conduct an education campaign about summer hydration.
    The funding for these grants originated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.