INDIANAPOLIS, March 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In its continued commitment to improving the oral and overall health of children in Georgia, the Renaissance Family Foundation, an affiliate of Renaissance Dental, will bring Brush!®, a literacy-based oral health education program, to Head Start programs in more than 40 Georgia counties. Created in partnership with the McMillen Center for Health Education, Brush! is a 52-week program aimed at improving the oral health and school readiness of children entering kindergarten.
The $35,000 grant marks Renaissance Dental's broadest effort in the state yet. In total, more than 4,000 preschool-aged children, their parents/caregivers and 320 teachers across the state will take part in the comprehensive 52-week curriculum. Brush!® is unique because its lessons align with national Head Start domains and involves teachers, children and families. Students learn about dental health while also developing reading, science and math skills.
"March is National Reading Month which makes this grant particularly timely. Studies show that reading is a key element to school success, and Brush!® is literacy based," said Teri Battaglieri, director, Renaissance Family Foundation. "Further, children miss 51 million hours of school a year due to oral health issues, and using the Brush!® program to educate preschoolers and their families on good oral health will go a long way to ensuring that children show up for school every day healthy, pain free and ready to learn."
Throughout the program year, children will receive weekly lessons on the importance of good oral health. Additionally, the program has a strong parent education component that includes a monthly newsletter in both Spanish and English and a text messaging program. The newsletter teaches parents important hygiene tips for themselves and their children, how to read with their children to aid the development of language skills and the significance of healthy eating at the family table.
Georgia currently ranks 49th in the country in number of dentists per capita, with only 4.4 dentists per 10,000 people. There are 16 Georgia counties that do not have a single practicing dentist. Georgia Head Start and Early Head Start programs serve approximately 28,100 children. The problem is so vast that many children in Georgia ages five and under have already failed their dental exams and will need treatment to correct and often remove primary teeth.
"Severe pediatric dental decay can create a domino effect of issues that prevent children from reaching their full potential – from not starting school ready to learn, to the impact of the permanent teeth coming in decayed or out of alignment, potentially causing jaw pain for the rest of their lives," said Holli Seabury, Brush!® CEO and author. "With assistance from the Renaissance Family Foundation, we are extremely excited to expand the reach of our Brush!® curriculum to the great state of Georgia for the first time."
This funding marks the Renaissance Family Foundation's fourth grant to programs in Georgia, following grants to the Georgia Department of Public Health in 2014 and 2015 to support their school-based oral health programs, and to the Georgia Public Libraries in 2013. In total, the Renaissance Family Foundation has dedicated more than $120,000 in funds to improving children's oral health and literacy across the state.
Renaissance Dental, a leading dental services provider, is well-known for its flexible and customizable dental plans that offer extensive coverage of services, maximum choice and value, and hassle-free benefits for individuals and groups of any size. For more information, visit www.RenaissanceDental.com/pr.
About Renaissance Dental
Renaissance Dental is part of the Renaissance Family of Companies, which was founded in 1957 and has offices in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. Collectively, Renaissance companies cover 11.6 million people with annual paid claims of $3 billion. Renaissance Dental provides quality and affordable dental insurance to organizations and individuals nationwide. Customizable dental options can be designed for groups as small as two enrollees. Renaissance Dental is the flagship product of Renaissance Life and Health Insurance Company of America and Renaissance Health Insurance Company of New York. Visit www.RenaissanceDental.com/pr.
About the McMillen Center
Established in 1981, the McMillen Center is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide vital, effective and preventive health education that promotes physical, emotional and social well-being. In 2012, the McMillen Center developed the Brush!® Early Childhood Oral Health Curriculum in an effort to change children's health status and help children enter Kindergarten ready to learn. We advocate for the establishment of a dental home by age one and promote oral health education for all who influence a child's health status, including parents, caregivers, educators, and health practitioners. More information at www.brushdental.org.
About Georgia Head Start Association
The Georgia Head Start Association, Inc. (GHSA) is a statewide nonprofit organization with the mission to provide education, leadership and advocacy that supports Head Start programs' efforts in delivering high-quality, comprehensive services to Georgia's children, families and communities. GHSA represents the 31 Head Start and Early Head Start agencies in the state of Georgia that provide these services to over 28,000 low-income children from birth through age 5 and their families. For more information, visit http://www.georgiaheadstart.org/
SOURCE Renaissance Dental