The following is a press release from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center:
“I’m a true believer in the environmental movement and you are a leader,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino told a standing-room-only crowd at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center during the 14th annual Healthy Work/Healthy Home Environmental Champions breakfast. “It takes a team to make things happen and that’s what you have here making Boston a greener place.”
Menino and Jamaica Plain resident Rebecca Park, a senior at Boston Latin School, were honored alongside 21 BIDMC staff with Environmental Action Awards for their commitment to sustainability and their work to improve the environment.
From the construction of green buildings, to the expansion of recycling programs, the implementation of a tree planting program and the introduction of the Hubway bike sharing program, the mayor’s many green initiatives have made Boston a national environmental leader. In his 2011 climate action plan, “A Climate of Progress,” Menino cemented his promise to “turn Beantown into Greentown” by committing to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.
“We have admired your enduring commitment to the city’s neighborhoods,” said President and CEO Kevin Tabb, MD. “And at BIDMC we have the same understanding that taking care of our community is what it’s all about.”
Environmental sustainability has become a way of doing business at BIDMC. This year’s environmental champions were responsible for change throughout the medical center, including creating a program to donate or reuse surplus lab materials, a doctor’s relentless conversion of paper medical transactions to electronic ones, and the work of a team of three who developed a single-stream recycling program in their building that keeps almost 40 tons of waste out of landfill each year.
North End resident Jennifer French, the community health and wellness coach at BIDMC’s Bowdoin Street Health Center, was honored for helping produce the next generation of environmental champions through the coordination and expansion of Bowdoin’s Healthy Champions program. Using hands on learning, French teaches 6- to 14-year-old students that they can become ambassadors of change in their own community.
In the program, students learn that the simple act of planting a seed may seem like a small gesture, but the seeds grow into a garden and the produce from that garden can not only help feed the community, but model them the importance of eating healthy foods as well.
“BIDMC takes our connection to the environment seriously,” said Jane Matlaw, director of community relations and chair of the Healthy Work/Healthy Home Committee. “We are making gains daily to meet our goal of environmental responsibility.”
Park, a recipient of the President’s Environmental Youth Award and the co-president of Boston Latin’s Youth Climate Action Network, a school group responsible for, among other things, incorporating sustainability into school curriculum and proposing and funding a green rooftop project, delivered a moving call to action at the Healthy Work/Healthy Home event.
Under the event theme of “why green matters,” Park launched into her keynote address using an ambulance metaphor to bring attention to the power of individual actions.
“When an ambulance siren is heard, the cars driving on the road pull over to the side. And when each car makes the right decision, together we make a difference for the patient. But each car has power. Even if one stays on the road, it can block the ambulance,” said Park.
On behalf of young people, she added, “What we’re asking for is breathable air and drinkable water. We want to raise our children in this same world. Climate change may be our generation’s issue, but we still need all of you. We need everyone on board. We need everyone to pull to the side of the road so that the ambulance can get by. So let’s get to work together.”
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and currently ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit http://www.bidmc.org.
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