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Program will help kids with elevated lead levels

The Learning Disabilities Association of Western New York offers a free program to provide critically-needed early academic intervention to 3- and 4-year-olds diagnosed with elevated lead levels.

Mentoring focuses on early literacy skill development to help ensure the children are prepared for success in kindergarten and beyond.

Lead poisoning is 100 percent preventable but the damage can be permanent for those affected. The association works to address related negative effects on a child’s cognitive ability during a critical time in brain development.

Children affected by lead poisoning are at greater risk of:

– Lower IQ scores

– Speech and hearing difficulties

– Learning disabilities

– Attention problems

– Behavioral issues

Children with developmental delays or at high risk for them benefit most from interventions that start at an early age, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Lead poisoning hits close to home. Thousands of children under age 6 in Erie County are diagnosed with elevated blood lead levels. The Department of Health has identified several ZIP codes as “Communities of Concern,” where children are at exceptionally high risk: 14201, 14207, 14208, 14209, 14210, 14211, 14212, 14213, and 14215.

There is no safe level of lead in the blood, according to the CDC. Lead can be found in many parts of Erie County, but exposure often occurs in older homes when a child is exposed to lead paint chips or dust.

“Our mission at LDA is to provide high-quality individualized, comprehensive, and innovative services which support, educate, and empower all individuals with learning or developmental disabilities,” association Chief Executive Officer Michael Helman said in a news release. “With the LEAD 716 program, we are focused on helping kids before they enter school – before they encounter learning problems – at an age when they are more resilient. It is our hope, as a result of this project, that children in Erie County who have been affected by lead will lead healthier, more successful lives.”

Parents of children interested in participating in the association program can contact Leah Bartlo at 874-7200, Ext. 168 or, or visit

The program is made possible by grants from The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation and The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.



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