Partnership connects importance of children's oral health and literacy
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Seuss-tastic secret behind the National Education Association's Read Across America program, which is celebrated by 45 million people annually, is that it makes reading fun for kids. For the second year, NEA will use its highly Seuss-cessful children's literacy program to raise awareness of a culprit—oral health problems—that's causing U.S. school-aged children to miss more than 51 million hours of school each year.
What's the connection between children's oral health and literacy? A recent study found that students who don't read at grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. Findings by the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC also showed students who have experienced recent oral health pain are four times more likely to have lower grade point averages than their counterparts who have not.
"Educators know that students need to come to school ready and able to learn," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "When kids miss school due to oral health problems, they're missing out on critical instruction time and the essential learning that takes place in the classroom."
This very real problem—the link between oral health and student achievement—facing school children, especially minority and economically disadvantaged students, is the reason behind the partnership of NEA and Renaissance Dental. Through NEA's Read Across America, three million educators are helping to deliver a very important message to students: "2 x 2 + 20 = good oral health and literacy habits." The pledge asks children to brush for two minutes, two times per day, plus read for 20 minutes each day—for a daily total of 24 minutes, all focused on developing good oral health and reading skills.
"As a parent, I know first-hand how important it is for children to develop good habits when they're young," said Rob Mulligan, president and CEO at Renaissance Dental. "By making twice daily brushing and daily reading regular parts of a child's routine, we can start to instill good habits early on. Research tells us that oral health and reading are directly linked to the well-being and success of a child in school. This partnership provides us with a national platform extending our ability to positively impact children and parents across the nation."
The unique partnership between the nation's largest union of educators and Renaissance Dental also will provide funds for media center and state reading grants, in addition to delivering books, toothbrushes and other oral health items to students in need. The announcement comes on the eve of National Children's Dental Health Month in February, which is designed to raise awareness about the importance of oral health.
Thanks to financial support from Renaissance Dental, the Cat in the Hat—the official mascot for NEA's Read Across America—will hit the road again this year with the popular Cat-a-Van Reading Tour, February 24 through March 14. The reading tour will visit Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi, with additional Seuss-tastic events planned from coast to coast on the annual Read Across America Day, Monday, March 3.
Originally created as a one-day event to celebrate the joy of reading, Read Across America, now in its 17th year and sponsored by NEA and Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., has grown into a nationwide initiative that promotes reading every day. With Dr. Seuss's March 2nd birthday falling on Sunday this year, the official Read Across America Day will be celebrated Monday, March 3rd, enabling schools nationwide to participate in the reading fun.
The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at www.nea.org.
About Renaissance Dental
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 & Health Insurance Company of America and Renaissance Health Insurance Company of New York. www.RenaissanceDental.com.
For more information about NEA's Read Across America, visit www.nea.org/readacross
To learn more about the link between oral health and literacy, check out http://2min2x.org
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SOURCE National Education Association