Nancy and James Chuda: Keeping Homes Safe for Children
As co-founders of Healthy Child Healthy World, sustainable-lifestyle activists Nancy and Jim Chuda have worked tirelessly to promote a safer, toxic-free, healthy environment.
By Everyday Health Staff
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After losing their only child, Colette, at the age of 5, to a rare, non-genetic form of Wilm’s tumor, Nancy and Jim Chuda founded Healthy Child Healthy World in 1991. The mission of this national children’s charity is to inspire parents to protect children from harmful chemicals. In Colette’s memory, the organization has mobilized parents and caregivers, environmental groups, the scientific community, and media to advocate for policy changes that will protect children worldwide.
In the mid-1980s, few of us knew much about the possible dangers of environmental chemicals that are all around us in everyday life — or the potential cumulative effects of some of these chemicals. It took time for scientific studies to reveal that some chemicals are linked to the development of certain cancers, and it took even more time to prove that heredity may predispose some people to these cancers.
Although there is no way to definitively show that Colette's cancer was environmentally caused, the Chudas consulted an expert on Wilm's Tumor, who told them "that it was possible that something Nancy had ingested or was exposed to in the environment during her pregnancy could have triggered the destructive mechanism that caused Colette's cancer to later develop."
"As parents who lost a child to a non-hereditary form of cancer, we believe that Colette would have survived had we had the knowledge and tools Healthy Child Healthy World provides parents today," say the Chudas. "Many years ago, we decided we weren't going to let our personal tragedy, losing our only child, beat us. Instead, we decided to set some winning goals — to help others — so that other children would not have to experience our daughter Colette's fate."
Our credentials and service:Nancy is as an associate of the Director’s Council of Public Representatives of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition, she was appointed by President Clinton’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Donna Shalala, to membership on the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council for the National Institutes of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) — a position she held for four years.
Jim has received both regional and national awards for his environmental efforts in architecture and for excellence in design, energy conservation, and overall architectural site development. He has served on the Southern California Advisory Board of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and on the board of directors of the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides.
Together, the Chudas are recipients of the California League of Conservation Voters Award for environmental stewardship(1996) and the Health School Heroes Award for initiating the California Healthy Schools Act signed into law in 2000.
Our first publication:Our first primer,The Household Detective, informed parents about the dangers of chemicals in the home environment and safer alternatives. This booklet was distributed to more than 10,000 parents as an educational resource. Years later, our charity under the leadership of Christopher Gavigan, with the support of Dr. Phillip Landrigan and Dr. Harvey Karp, publishedHealthy Child Healthy World: Creating A Cleaner Greener Safer Home.
Our future health projects:We recently created LuxEco Living, an online magazine, resource hub, and community of experts and citizen advocates that help each other navigate through the green (r)evolution to attain vibrant inner and collective health.
We believe luxury is not simply what you buy and how much of it you can afford. Luxury is not status, and it is not material. Real luxury, rewarding luxury, and meaningful luxury is rejoicing in vibrant health that comes from honoring the interconnectedness of our minds, bodies, and spirits, and also with our collective global society and the environment.
LuxEco Living has just expanded into e-commerce, and a percentage of all sales go to support Healthy Child Healthy World. Our hope is to establish a lifetime endowment stream to continue the important work of our organization. Everyone deserves a healthy, eco-rich, vibrant life.
Our favorite healthy habit:Eating a healthy diet with very little meat.
Our health hero:Jim’s is Dr. Phil Landrigan, and Nancy has two: Rachel Carson and Dr. Frederica Perera.
How we practice what we preach:We are avid farmer’s market fans in order to find the freshest, healthiest foods while also supporting local farmers and sustainable food systems.
Our best health tip:
Follow Healthy Child Healthy World’s 5 Easy Steps. They were identified by a panel of health professionals and scientists as some of the best ways to prevent toxic exposures and protect children’s health.
Our three musts for building a healthy world, environment, and community for children:
- Make personal choices to treat our bodies well by eating nutritious, organic food and having an active lifestyle.
- Create a safe, non-toxic, sustainable environment so that all life may flourish.
- Nourish our souls by generously expressing love and gratitude for each other and our bountiful blessings.
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