Dr. James Crall is a pediatric dentist and a professor of pediatric dentistry and public health & community dentistry at UCLA. He has served as a member or consultant on numerous national panels concerning oral health and advised Sesame Workshop on the development of our new oral health outreach initiative. We spoke with Dr. Crall in order to learn more about the general state of children’s oral health in this country and ways parents can help encourage an emphasis on oral health.
Sesame Workshop: First and foremost, tell me about the general state of oral health among young children in this country?
Dr. James Crall: Looking at the big picture over time there have been significant improvements in children’s oral health in this country. However, the first ever U.S. Surgeon General’s report on oral health in 2000 noted that there remains a “silent epidemic of dental problems.” Nationally things have improved since then, but despite those improvements there is still disparity in children’s oral health and millions of children still face significant problems accessing dental care, especially young children.
I was recently watching “Growing Hope Against Hunger,” a new TV special about childhood hunger in America, and I was really shocked to learn that lots of kids just like me don’t have enough food to eat. So Murray from Sesame Street and I teamed up to raise awareness about childhood hunger by hosting a screening of the TV special at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Giving back is very big for me. I’ve always said that, if I had the opportunity to use my celebrity to help change the world, I would do just that. Now that I’m on an Emmy-award winning show, ABC’s Modern Family, it’s great to have the opportunity to help make a difference in other kids lives. Check out this video Murray and I made to help explain what a Food Bank is and all the ways you can volunteer to make American kids healthier and happier!
I am honored and so proud to be a part of this amazing project. To learn more about all the great work Sesame Street and I are doing to fight childhood hunger and to watch the “Growing Hope Against Hunger” special, click here.
“As a parent, I am reminded on a daily basis how important a healthy diet is to both physical and emotional well-being. There are few things more heartbreaking than the eyes of a hungry child, or a parent who feels too much shame to ask for help. I’m honored to be a part of this important initiative.” -Erica Hill, Co-Anchor, CBS News’ The Early Show
In December of 2010, Sesame Workshop launched Food for Thought: Eating Healthy on a Budget, a bilingual (English-Spanish) multimedia outreach initiative designed to help children between the ages of two and eight and their families cope with uncertain or limited access to affordable and nutritious food. Today, Sesame Workshop unveiled compelling research on the initiative, demonstrating that Food For Thought: Eating Healthy on A Budget has been successful in helping families increase knowledge beliefs and behaviors around nutrition. The study was conducted by the Field Research Corporation and funded by The Merck Company foundation.
Photo by Jen Rupnik
A livestream panel was also held today to present the results, moderated by Erica Hill, Co-Anchor of CBS News The Early Show, at the national Press Club in Washington, D.C. She was joined by several experts including:
Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President, Outreach and Educational Practices, Sesame Workshop
Enid Borden, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels Association of America
Mark DiCamillo, Senior Vice President, Field Research Corporation
Vicki Escarra, President & CEO, Feeding America
Tianna Gaines, Witnesses to Hunger
Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO, National WIC Association
Ronald Kleinman, M.D., Physician in Chief, MassGeneral Hospital for Children
The study focused on the impact of a four week exposure to the kit and found that it had a positive impact on behaviors and attitudes regarding how to cope with food insecurity. This translated into concrete activities for the participants, who were more likely to seek help, save money on food, and choose healthier eating for their families after working with the kit. Most importantly, participants showed a dramatically increased ability to cope with food insecurity and communicate with their children about food security worries. Sesame Workshop hopes that it can continue initiatives like Food For Thought and Growing Hope For Hungerin an effort to help families find resources and grow stronger together.
For more information, read the full press release here.
On November 5th, Sesame Workshop launched a new collection of resources for military families at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Families who attended the celebration on Nov. 5 were greeted by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commander, Colonel Carl R. Coffman, Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Principal Director of Military Community and Family Policy, Charles Milam, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Director, Navy Captain Paul S. Hammer, and Sesame Workshop president and CEO, H. Melvin Ming. Families experienced interactive performances by Sesame Street and Electric Company characters, explored the Military Families Near and Far website and the free Feel Electric! mobile app; as well as participated in other family fun activities. In addition, families saw the debut of the new “Let It Out” music video, which further supports self-expression and feelings vocabulary.
The new initiative was created in cooperation with the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. The goal of these resources are to extend the reach and effectiveness of the already existing program. This includes a bilingual website with information designed to connect families to one another and provide information to how to deal with the unique problems facing military families. In addition, Sesame Workshop is especially excited about FeelElectirc! a mobile app that encourages children to explore and express their emotions.
To date, Sesame Street’s military families initiative has provided significant resources for military families with preschool children experiencing the effects of deployments, when a parent returns home changed because of a combat-related injury and coping with the death of a loved one. With the help of The Electric Company, this new phase expands efforts to reach elementary school kids, 6 to 9 years old, find the right words to express their emotions as they experience difficult military transitions.
“Sesame Street and The Electric Company are thrilled to introduce Military Families Near and Far, which expands our Military Families Initiative to elementary school children and their parents,” said H. Melvin Ming, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop. “During this month of the military family, I can’t think of a better way to renew our commitment to military families and to let them know we care and are here to help.”
For more information, see the full press release here.