The continued use of leaded paint, leaded gasoline and leaded aviation fuel are detrimental to the health of communities across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. In the US, lead poisoning is often referred to as the “silent epidemic.” Not easily detected during a short doctor’s visit, the effects of lead poisoning can be slow and often fatal for some.
But the “silent epidemic” does not affect everyone equally. A recent study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that children from black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities are four times as likely to have elevated levels of lead in their blood.
Manu grew up in Virginia, where lead and heavy metal poisoning is one of the biggest health issues for children, causing developmental delays, lifelong cognitive issues and organ failure. And while he had access to quality education and healthcare, Manu became deeply concerned about the disparate impacts of lead poisoning on BIPOC communities. Through his research, he discovered that lead and heavy metal poisoning were completely preventable and that the first step towards a lead poisoning free environment must start with spreading awareness and educating families across America. Manu was adamant to make this happen.
Manu co-founded Project Mislead, a first-of-its-kind, youth-led organization dedicated to ending lead and heavy metal poisoning by educating communities about dangers in their homes, schools and workplaces. The mission was big and the Project Mislead team needed to focus. Their first challenge was figuring out how to get the word out about the life-threatening effects lead has on the human body. With guided mentorship from Peace First, the Project Mislead team began working on developing strategy, targeted messaging and raising funds.
Manu and his team are planning on rolling out a new curriculum on lead and heavy metal poisoning to be used by teachers, parents and students who want to help educate their communities. The idea is to introduce regionally-specific resources to community members across the United States. Project Mislead recently became the first youth-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and they are currently recruiting volunteers all across the country. “We use our education as a tool for empowerment,” says Manu. “Our goal is to give families the freedom they need to stay healthy, safe, informed and connected with others.”
Visit: https://www.projectmislead.org/index to learn more.