October 23, 2012

By Jennifer Shin

Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me Hits the Streets of San Francisco

Last week, I had the privilege of traveling to San Francisco to be a part of the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile oral health screening program, which took place at two elementary schools and a hospital over the course of three days.  In collaboration with the San Francisco Dental Society, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Colgate’s Bright Future, Bright Smiles program, and the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, over 2,000 San Francisco children received free oral health screenings and education on those three days.  We were a part of these events for our work on our Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me outreach initiative, with the ADA distributing over 2,000 of the Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me kits to all of the participating children, along with free toothbrushes and toothpaste.

On one of the days, we were at the E.R. Taylor Elementary School, which serves over 700 diverse, low-income children from pre-k to 5th grade in San Francisco.   That day, all of the children in school received oral health education, while the kindergarteners, 2nd and 5th graders received dental screenings from the Give Kids A Smile volunteers.  It was heartening to see so many of these volunteers- dentists, hygenists, dental students, dental staff- volunteer their time and their resources to make sure these children are getting the care they need and deserve.   As I was talking to the principal, she mentioned that these screenings were so important to her because when a child doesn’t have to think about their body, they can focus on school.  As budget cuts slash away more things each year, including having a school nurse on hand, she was just so grateful for the events and the resources like these screenings that help keep her students healthier and more school-ready.

As a Project Manager on the Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me initiative, I work with various community health organizations, healthcare providers, and schools to distribute these free materials nationwide.  However, this was the first time I experienced in person how our materials get distributed and integrated into programs, and the important work our partners are doing in communities through events such as these.   Being able to experience something like this firsthand really made me appreciate not only the work that we do in helping create these outreach resources here at Sesame, but the people who are in the communities everyday carrying out work that is much needed.  We are just glad that our project can be of support to providers and families in staying healthy, and we will continue to create resources that can be of help to our many community outreach partners to carry on the mission of healthy habits.

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