Healthy Communities

Our health often depends on living and working in a healthy community. A healthy community has clean air, clean water and clean soil. Children can live and play there without fear of exposure to toxic chemicals. “Healthy communities for kids are on the verge of being engineered out of existence,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “We created these harmful built environments and we’re equally empowered to change them.” IKE has worked in a variety of ways to reduce environmental threats in Indiana communities.

Clean Water

The source of life on our planet, water needs our protection.

Pollutants emitted into the air and onto the land often end up in our waters, where they accumulate in sediments, plants and fish. Water is recycled in a never-ending cycle from the atmosphere, to precipitation, to our waterways, and back into the atmosphere again. Along the way, a drop of water may find its way to our faucet, into our bodies, down our drains, through our wastewater treatment systems, and back into our waterways.

Children are especially vulnerable to water pollution. They are more likely to play in streams and ditches that are polluted with sewage or agricultural runoff. They also drink more water, per pound, than adults. Contaminants in water, such as lead, pesticides and endocrine disruptors, can have greater impacts on the developing brains and bodies of children.

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Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can harm the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. It is especially dangerous to unborn babies and young children, whose brains and nervous system are still developing.


Mercury is a metal that is liquid at room temperature. It has had a wide variety of uses in industry and household and consumer products. At room temperature the liquid metal evaporates, creating an odorless vapor that is toxic to the lungs and nervous system. Items containing mercury should be disposed of at your community’s household hazardous waste facility.

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Sewage in Our Streams

Playing in water is a natural part of growing up, but if that water is contaminated, it can pose a health threat.

Many Indiana streams contain raw sewage from overflowing sewer systems, leaking septic systems or manure from animals. The bacteria count in these contaminated streams is often more than 100 times the national clean water standard.


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Pesticides pose hazards, especially to children who may be sensitive to them.

IKE’s goal is to reduce both pests and pesticide exposures, and to ensure that parents who are concerned about pesticide use in schools are notified so they can take appropriate action.

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Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Improving Kids’ Environment works on environmental justice issues and has worked with the Martindale-Brightwood Environmental Justice Collaborative (MBEJC) in Martindale-Brightwood and the Hawthorne Center in NearWest. IKE is committed to working on environmental justice issues and has made it a key strategic directive for future programs.

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Healthy Community Resources

Our aim is to provide information to Indiana families, educators, and health care professionals to keep the children in their care healthy where they live, learn, and play.

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