Responding to local needs: Oral health for students and parents at the Children’s Academy
One of the advantages of being integrally engaged in The Children’s Academy school community is that we are in regular contact with students, parents and other community members. If there’s a problem, whether at the school or in the broader community, the school’s Leadership Team, teachers and other staff are going to know about it and soon we – our US staff – will as well. This allows us to respond quickly and effectively when problems arise.
Recently, the Leadership Team and Wellness Team identified oral health as a real problem among students. Students were dealing with untreated cavities which led to headaches and either missing school or not being able to concentrate.
Unfortunately, most Haitians neither have regular access to a dentist, nor do they have the extra income to afford one. To make matters worse, with all the current unrest we were worried about the safety of the students and their parents were they to go into the city to see a dentist.
With all this in mind, last week the Leadership Team and Wellness Team arranged for a dentist to come visit the school. Over the course of three days the dentist saw 98 kids. In order to address the access issue, the school covered three quarters of the cost, while the parents are covering one quarter. The plan going forward is to have the dentist come do one of these mini-clinics every six months.
Additionally, because many of the students’ parents were also having problems with their teeth, we have now arranged for the dentist to come back again just to attend to them.
Finally, a big part of why families are having such bad dental issues is because they are not informed about the dangers of sugar. From the extreme amount of sugar that people take in their coffee, to “sirèt” – the rock candy that kids loves much – sugar is way too big a part of the Haitian diet. For this reason, going forward the Wellness Team will be also be educating students and parents about how and why they should reduce their sugar intake.