El Paso, TX, September 13, 2012(PAHO/WHO) – As part of the 110th anniversary of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the 70th anniversary of its U.S.-Mexico Border Office, the Ecoclubs achievements on the U.S.-Mexico border were recognized during an exhibition at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, where Ecoclubs from both sides of the border presented the projects they have developed.
Ecoclub organizers and participants had the opportunity to present the projects they have been developing since 2010, when Ecoclubs were first launched on the U.S-Mexico border. These projects cover a range of themes on environment, healthy lifestyles, life skills, and health promotion and prevention. Youth and children had the opportunity to present their achievements in the presence of top officials like Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, Director of PAHO, Ms. Catherine Light, Superintendent of the United States National Park Services, Mayor John Cook of the City of El Paso, Mr. Jeff Sheldon of the Texas Transportation Institute, Mr. Enrique Mata from the Paso del Norte Foundation, Ms. Angelica Negrete of the El Paso School District, Ms. Virginia Hill and Ms. Lucy Weisenger of the Housing Authority of El Paso, Ms. Gloria Marmolejo of Project Vida, and Dr. George Benjamin, President of the American Association of Public Health, among others. The lead projects developed by the Ecoclubs of El Paso, Texas, McKinleyville, California, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua were presented.
During the exhibition, Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, Director of PAHO shared about the history of the Ecoclubs and spoke about the importance of the Ecoclub projects and the benefit they bring to all, pointing out that “young people will come closer to the national parks, and the national parks will benefit from the enthusiasm and focus on the importance of national parks for people’s health and well-being.”
Moreover, the Mayor of El Paso John Cook noted the importance of the site where the exibition took place, the Chamizal National Memorial, which he called a symbol of the connection and cooperation between the United States and Mexico. “We share the same environment and the same health challenges –so it is very important for us to have that cooperation –and what better place to show it that here at this national park which spreads on both sides of the border.”
As the National Promoter of the Ecoclubs network in the United States, Ms. Sylvia Sillas presented the activities at the event. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Ecoclubs acknowledged the City of El Paso, the Chamizal National Memorial Park, and the PAHO for the support that these institutions have given to the development of the Ecoclubs Network. Likewise, a discussion was held about the possibility of expanding Ecoclubs along the border and reinforcing cooperation agreements between the PAHO/WHO and the United States National Park Service.
An Ecoclub is an independent organization, lead and governed by youth in the community. The Ecoclub in the El Chamizal neighborhood is the first in the United States and now is part of the network of Ecoclubs formed in 38 other countries. Their purpose is to improve quality of life, contribute to the welfare of their community, develop leadership skills in youth, and promote the health of boys, girls, youth, and teens.
• Event photo gallery
• About Ecoclubs on the border
• Video about Ecoclubs
The Pan American Health Organization, founded in 1902, works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. It serves as the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO). PAHO/WHO United States-Mexico Border Office was established in 1942, it continues to facilitate and promote border collaboration with public and private binational institutions and entities involved in improving the health of the population at the Border.