Virginia Tech Mother And Daughter Pair Up To Teach Children's Healthy Spaces Workshops

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 24, 2003 – One is a professor and the other is a student. Together, they do more than prepare lesson plans or attend classes. Virginia Tech's professor of Human Development Kathleen Parrott and her daughter Leah Wechtaluk, a senior in Human Development, are showing daycare providers, educators, and parents how to create healthy environments for young children.

Their workshop, "Healthy Spaces: Happy Faces" will be presented March 26 in Salem prior to the annual meeting of the Virginia Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Parrott and Wechtaluk focus on issues related to healthy spaces for children, in day care settings as well as the home. Key topics include mold, lead hazards, environmental tobacco smoke and asthma management.

"Asthma is the leading cause of childhood hospitalization and school absenteeism," Parrott said. Their program encourages children and caregivers to learn how to limit negative asthma triggers.

The idea for a joint workshop began three years ago, when Parrott and Wechtaluk wrote a grant to fund its development. Both had been thinking about the topic for years, Parrott said. They are now in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Recently, the University of Wisconsin Extension Service videotaped the pair for a national broadcast of their workshop.

"Working with my daughter has been a delight," said Parrott. "I'm excited about working with her on future healthy living projects." Parrott also helped develop the "Healthy Homes" program which has been funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for more than eight years, and the award-winning "Home*A*Syst: An Environmental Risk-Assessment Guide for the Home."