LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Oct. 25, 2004) â€“ Children International UALR dedicated its new Future Smiles Dental Health Clinic at Wakefield Elementary School today, working with UAMS, Little Rock School District, Children International, the United Way of Pulaski County, the Arkansas Department of Health, and other oral health partners to eventually provide dental care for about 2,000 children at six Little Rock schools.
Congressman Vic Snyder toured the fully equipped clinic at the dedication ceremony and praised participants of Children International UALRâ€™s Dental Health Action Team of health officials and members of the dental profession for working together to bring better oral health to Little Rock children.
Cheryl Chapman, director of Children International UALR, said the new clinic will allow members of the Dental Health Action Team to treat some of the tooth decay problems they spot through an ongoing dental screening program at the six Little Rock Public schools involved with the program.
â€śLast year, we were unable to help the 150 to 200 children with emergency dental needs. With the new clinic, those children will not be left in dental pain,â€ť Chapman said.
Children International UALR, the only program in the United States funded by the Kansas City-based Children International, provides health and educational enrichment for targeted children at six elementary schools near UALRâ€™s campus:
Franklin, Bale, Chicot, Stephens, Wakefield, and Wilson. It has received over $5 million since UALR launched the program in 1994.
John Nazzaro, director of the United Way whose organization has committed $157,000 to the project, said the new dental clinic focuses on a high-priority community need.
â€śThe premise of Future Smiles is to help provide comprehensive dental care to hundreds of children who presently get very little if any,â€ť he said. â€śThatâ€™s what I call a high-visibility need in the community, and we are very proud to be associated with the program and to provide the initial seed capital.â€ť
Chestin Platt, a fifth grader at Bale Elementary School, has received regular dental screenings and anti-cavity sealants applied by a hygienist at school, and regular tooth cleanings at UAMS through the Future Smiles program.
His mother, Shawntaine Platt, said the new clinic will be providing a much needed service. â€śI think it will be great for parents and children, especially those who do not have insurance,â€ť she said. â€śChildren International UALR is totally concentrated on our kids and their needs, with activities like the Homework Center, art classes, and museum trips. Now, with the new clinic the kids can focus on learning instead of toothaches. Thank you UALR and Children International.â€ť
UALR has partnered with 13 dental health organizations and community professionals â€“ including Arkansas Department of Health, students from the UAMS Dental Hygiene Program and area dentists. These professionals have voluntarily provided 8,054 children with dental screenings and 442 children with dental sealants since 2000. Children International UALR will continue to coordinate these projects along with the new clinic.
With the fully functional dental clinic at Wakefield, a full-time dentist can now provide treatment on a priority basis.
Delta Dental Plan of Arkansas, one of the Dental Health Action Team members, provided a grant in 2002 to purchase portable equipment so screenings can be performed at each school.
Earlier this month, Delta Dental presented Dental Health Action Team members with another $17,000 to help purchase supplies for the new Future Smiles Dental Clinic.
â€śThis new dental clinic is a classic example of what an engaged metropolitan university like UALR can do to better the community and the city,â€ť said UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson. â€śOur community is so fortunate to have committed partners like the the United Way, the Arkansas Department of Health, Delta Dental and all members of the Dental Health Action Team. They are truly making a significant difference in these childrensâ€™ lives.â€ť
For more information, contact Children International UALR at (501) 663-5541.
Dental Health Action Team Members:
- Arkansas Childrenâ€™s Hospital
- Arkansas Dept. of Health
- Arkansas Department of Human Services
- Arkansas Minority Health Commission
- Arkansas State Dental Association
- Communications Etc.
- Delta Dental Plan of Arkansas
- Little Rock School District
- St. Vincent Health System
- Children International
- United Way of Pulaski County
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
- University of Arkansas at Little Rock