The Arkansas Oral Health Zone is proud to partner with Special Olympics of Arkansas (SOAR) and their Healthy Athletes program. This partnership has inspired innovation in the ways NCOHF and SOAR can support each other’s work at the grassroots level while also influencing policy makers, organizations and medical care providers to broaden their understanding of oral health issues faced by populations with intellectual disabilities.
Participation in the Arkansas Summer Games was a highlight for the Zone. More than 300 athletes went through the Special Smiles clinic during the Healthy Athletes program at the Summer Games. In addition to vision, nutrition, podiatry, hearing and physical therapy assessments, athletes received dental education and screenings. Athletes were proud to show their smiles after receiving fluoride varnish, fitted mouthguards and learning skills for good oral hygiene.
SOAR encourages whole body wellness for their athletes, and this means a commitment to dental health. The Arkansas Oral Health Zone has been able to impact nearly 500 Special Olympics athletes through educational outreach and distribution of educational materials so far in 2017. NCOHF has also made its ToothFairy 101 Community Education Kit available to all district-level Healthy Athletes events across the state.
The Arkansas Oral Health Zone also presented to the Department of Education, Health and Physical Education, State Standards Revision Committee Meeting on June 22 as an expert advisor. The Zone was asked to present alongside the Arkansas Department of Transportation, The Drug Enforcement Agency and the Arkansas Attorney General’s office to make recommendations regarding updating oral health standards and expanding oral health education in schools. Every six years Arkansas schools must review their curriculum standards and update them as necessary. Changes regarding oral health will be put into effect in the 2018 school year and will be implemented in every public school in the state of Arkansas!
The Oral Health Zone is a program of NCOHF that focuses on expanding access to care and increasing oral health literacy in a specific state or region through education and community engagement. Oral Health Zones currently exist in Arkansas, Minnesota, Orange County (CA) and Los Angeles County (CA).
For more information about the Arkansas Oral Health Zone or how you can get involved, contact Rachel Townsend, Arkansas Oral Health Zone Manager, at (501) 819-3979 or RTownsend@ncohf.org.