Clear Creek Elementary art teacher David McGee has been working with his students to discover how art can be used to raise awareness about social issues. They are preparing their own representations of $100 bills in order to alert government officials to the dangers of lead poisoning.
Unseen lead contamination in both residential and working environments puts hundreds of thousands of children and adults at risk each year. The industrial use of lead has been limited since the 1970s, but residual lead dust, primarily from gasoline and paint, often remains in homes, yards, parks, and playing fields.
Additionally, experts warn that vinyl mini-blinds, hobby materials such as fishing weights or brass items, and old unsealed bathtubs can be additional sources of lead exposure.
Although adults can be affected by lead poisoning, the danger to children is the greatest. Prolonged exposure to lead can af- fect brain development and cause learning dis- abilities. Other consequences include lowered IQ, behavior and attention problems, hearing damage, nervous system and kidney damage.
The Fundred Dollar Bill initiative has children create their own artistic renderings of $100 bills. Since this is “fun” for the participants who are making $100 bills, fun + hundred = Fundred!
Before his students got creative, though, McGee made sure they understood what the issue was all about. He showed videos about the dangers of lead, instructed students on ways to reduce lead exposure, and held class discussions.
“It was amazing to find that some children had first-hand experience with lead exposure,” says McGee. “I even have one student who knows a child who has been sick for quite a while because of lead poisoning.”
After providing students with the information they needed, they got to work on their projects.
The Fundred organizers track the bills received and adjust the totals on the Fundred Dollar Bill Project website several times throughout the day.
To date, 17,832 Fundred dollar bills have been collected in North Carolina, and over 40 million have been collected from children all across the country.
Eventually the Fundred dollar bills will make their final trek to the White House via a special armored car where they will be presented to the U.S. Congress with a request for an even exchange of the creative capital for real funding to prevent lead poisoning in cities all across America.
The Fundred dollar bills created in McGee’s class will make their way by mail to Philadelphia along with those created by children from all around the country.