The Community Health Center is taking part in an annual state and nationwide program aimed at providing children with free dental services and education about proper oral health.
Give Kids a Smile, a national initiative sponsored by the American Dental Association in partnership with the Connecticut State Dental Association, kicks off for an 12th year Friday. The program invites local dental communities to join in a collective effort of raising awareness about proper oral care and eliminating cavities in children by 2020, according to Program Chairwoman Elise Cozzi.
“Education is the focus here,” said Cozzi. “We want to make sure parents are getting the right information they need so that they don’t give their children stuff that could lead to cavities and other oral diseases at a very young age.”
This year, the Community Health Center is joining the Hartford Dental Society and Community Health Services, Hartford-based Central Area Health Education Center, the Southwestern Area Health Education Center in Trumbull and the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center in Ansonia and Derby in receiving Expansion Support Grants to help build on the programs they have in place or start a new one.
Aldon Hymes, a social media manager at the Community Health Center, said their participation in the event speaks volumes to their efforts.
“We regularly say that dental health care is a right, not a privilege,” said Hymes. “We want to make sure those words are being put into action in all that we’re doing here.”
Cozzi praised the Community Health Center for their dedication to a program that will serve the city’s youth with the dental essentials they need to live healthier lives.
“There are kids in Middletown that don’t have insurance,” said Cozzi. “We feel very lucky and fortunate for them to be doing this out of the goodness of their heart. It shows that there’s a need for them to be entitled to these services.”
After the program’s successful start in 2003, Give Kids a Smile expanded from a one-day event to a much larger one in 2008. Since last year, it has raised more than $280,000 from over 290 volunteers who have donated to the cause.
The CSDA serves as an advocate for public health and promoting the dentistry industry with more than 26,000 members, including dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants around the state, according to their website.