Canary Kids Project Spreads its Wings

Back in 2010 a group of Rye moms whose children had been diagnosed with a range of childhood epidemic illnesses joined forces to find treatment strategies.

A12 Canary Kids
Published February 22, 2014 5:00 AM
4 min read


A12 Canary KidsBack in 2010 a group of Rye moms whose children had been diagnosed with a range of childhood epidemic illnesses joined forces to find treatment strategies.

By Bill Lawyer  


A12 Canary KidsBack in 2010 a group of Rye moms whose children had been diagnosed with a range of childhood epidemic illnesses joined forces to find treatment strategies. They made contact with Beth Lambert, a Connecticut-based health professional and author who had established a non-profit organization called “Parents Ending America’s Childhood Epidemics” – PEACE. Lambert herself had children with chronic food allergies. 


Besides food allergies, other identified childhood epidemic illnesses include autism, ADHD/ADD, Mood/behavioral disorders, Obesity/Type II diabetes, Asthma, Eczema/Atopic disease, and Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. 


Lambert’s book,  “A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children” highlighted the alarming scale of children with these illnesses, but it also offered potential treatments that could result in children functioning “in recovery.”


By 2012, the group had determined on a course of action. They developed a plan to make a documentary following the treatment regimens of seven children over a period of nearly two years. A new, not-for-profit corporation, Epidemic Answers, was formed.


The project would follow and film the progress of these children, with the hoped-for outcome of showing parents that there is “light at the end of the tunnel.” They came up with the name Canary Kids because they believed that the epidemic level of these diseases was due to changes in the environment that affect everyone. 


Just like the canaries that were used in mines to detect dangerous fumes, they saw the increasing number of sick children as a warning to everyone that changes needed to be made. 


Health care professionals and scientists were recruited to develop the film’s treatment model. Fundraising, led by local residents Eileen Iorio and Mary Toulouse, began in earnest in 2013. Friends refer to Toulouse as “Canary Mary.” Carrie Heffernan, Annalise Stack, Jen Leahy, Emily Keenan, and Aileen Brown are also helping raise funds.


The group has held a wide range of grass roots activities that have brought in well over $200,000. Proceeds have provided the seed money needed to get the film and educational project underway.


At the same time, they expanded the scope of the project. Instead of seven children, they are now aiming to follow the treatment of 14 children from California, Wisconsin, New York, Washington D.C., and Texas.


Their ultimate goal is to raise $4,000,000, which will cover all the costs of carrying out the treatments, along with completing and promoting the feature-length film, and related educational initiatives.


Two renowned health professionals were recruited to serve as co-chairs of the project’s advisory panel. They are Dr. Russell Jaffe, MD, Ph.D., Lab Director of ELISA/ACT Biotechnologies and a Fellow of the Virginia-based Health Studies Collegium; and Dr. Martha Herbert, MD, Ph.D., pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and Mass General Hospital. 


The advisory panel consists of 16 doctors and scientific advisors from all over the country.  Lambert refers to the panelists as medical mentors. They will work with the film children’s treatment professionals to insure that all phases of diagnosis and treatment are carried out scientifically. 


In addition to the medical advisory panel, the Canary Kids team has recruited 11 media, marketing, and health/wellness professionals to help with the filming and promotional tasks.  “Their diverse skills and connections are crucial to raising funds and getting our message out,” says Lambert. 


Josie Nelson was appointed as the Canary Kids Project Director. Nelson is an ethicist, advocate, certified health coach, and lifetime student of holistic health. She has degrees from both Georgetown University and the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her job is to coordinate all the program components and make sure things move ahead on schedule. The goal is to have the film open in a series of theatrical premieres in late 2016 or early 2017 at movie theaters around the country. Educational materials will be available at the theaters.


Mary Lambert will continue to oversee the fundraising operations, specializing in obtaining foundation grants and large donations from individuals. Thanks to all the networking that’s going on through Epidemic Answers, she’s got lots of good prospects.


Meanwhile, Toulouse and Iorio are still working hard at the grass roots. They have scheduled a major dinner-dance and live auction, Friday, March 28 at the trendy Loading Dock in Stamford. Tickets are available at


And, through a friend who works for Facebook, Toulouse has obtained free ad space on their website, which should be up soon. 


To see a short promotional video for the Canary Kids project, visit


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