Sharing good ideas is one of the main functions of this blog. Today, let's focus on a school outreach in St Louis called Brushing Up. This program grew out of the Greater St Louis Dental Society's strategic plan for public relations (does your component have a strategic plan?).
Research indicated that children ages 6-12 did not receive adequate oral health education. Within that group, high school age kids were most at risk and were developing habits (good or bad) that would extend into adulthood. A target audience was born! Next the GSLDS team developed a program that covered basic dental hygiene but also keenly addressed dangers such as mouth piercings, soft drink consumption, tobacco use, Meth use, eating disorders and the importance of a mouthguard in sports.
The pilot program was launched in the Rockwood School District during Children's Dental Health Month in February 2013. "Brushing Up ! Your Future Smile Starts Today" is a 45 minute, teacher-led program taught in health classes which are required in the state curriculum before you can graduate from high school. The two photos above illustrate some of the materials available to the teacher and a page on mouth piercing. You can see how the presentation is designed to be teen friendly .
After a great initial response and a few program tweaks, the project is back for this school year and has expanded to target approximately 2,000 students across the St Louis Public School system. There is much enthusiasm as health and gym teachers and coaches are being trained to present the program. The long term plan is to eventually provide the program to all St Louis area students.
I commend the diverse and talented team of member dentists who collaborated to develop the program. I salute the GSLDS for finding budget and other funds like a donation from the MDA Foundation to support this program. And my hat is off to Susan Prosperi, GSLDS staff, who has really done the legwork to get the program launched. You can reach Susan with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
What about the students where you live? How would a program like this work in your community? It took a broad team and some old fashioned grit to get it going in St Louis. I'm sure you can find both in your area of influence.