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Alliance of the ADA focuses on outreach in New Orleans


New resources: Alliance of the ADA Dental Health Education co-chairs Sue Gardner, left, and Molly Bickford showcase materials from the new Healthy Smiles from the Start toolkit Nov. 4, 2013, at the program launch in New Orleans. AADA will distribute toolkits to prenatal class sites nationwide. Photos by EZ Event Photography

Donation: AADA Head-to-Toe co-chairs Johanna Manasse, left, and Carol Reitz, right, present a check to Evelena Conerly and April Jenkins, representatives from New Orleans Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. The Alliance also donated 3,000 packages with socks, a hat, dental care products and more as part of its 2013 H2T project.
New Orleans—Volunteers from the Alliance of the American Dental Association made their charitable outreach and dental health education efforts look easy in the Big Easy during the AADA annual convention Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2013.

To support the 2013 Head-to-Toe service project, Alliance members solicited and collected socks, hats, dental education information and oral care products for the New Orleans Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. METRO provides temporary housing, a crisis line, counseling and other essential services for victims of abuse.

AADA members donated more than 3,000 oral health kits plus 300 additional pairs of socks, 1,300 toothbrushes, 582 tubes of toothpaste, 500 packages of floss, 1,000 packages of denture cleansing tablets, 50 notebooks and $600 in cash.

"Head-To-Toe was a great success because the Alliance came together in New Orleans to promote dental health education by giving our time, our helping hands, our warm hearts and a desire to make a difference in another person's life," said H2T co-chair Carol Reitz, of Reading, Pa. "At the same time, members were having fun, meeting new friends and catching up with the old."

The H2T project has been duplicated at the local and state levels throughout the United States, Mrs. Reitz added.

"In the future, our volunteers won't remember how many packets we packed or collected, they may not remember where the kits were donated, but what they will remember is how they felt—having a purpose, being engaged, making a difference and having fun."

"It is heartening to be among willing volunteers who share encouraging words while sorting through and packing over 3,000 care kits," added co-chair Johanna Manasse, of Olympia Fields, Ill. "It brought tears to my eyes to hear the stories of those who stopped at the booth to support us emotionally, professionally and financially and the grateful recipients were speechless when they received the donations.  That's why I do H2T."

Also in New Orleans, the Alliance, the ADA and Henry Schein Cares launched a new initiative to bring bilingual dental health education to expectant mothers, new mothers/caregivers and newborns.

The Healthy Smiles from the Start program was introduced at a press conference Nov. 4, 2013, at the Touro Infirmary in New Orleans.

"There is an urgent need for dental health education to be included in pre-and post-natal classes offered by hospitals and birthing centers," said Molly Bickford and Sue Gardner, AADA Dental Health Education co-chairs. "By collaborating with these educational programs and providing the Healthy Smiles from the Start toolkit, we can help to prevent and decrease baby bottle tooth decay, as well increase awareness that it's not only safe, but very important that women visit the dentist during pregnancy."

AADA members nationwide will distribute Healthy Smiles from the Start materials to local hospitals and community health centers with established prenatal education classes.

The Alliance's goal is to distribute toolkits to at least three prenatal class sites in each state within the next year, and to at least 10 class sites by 2016. Toolkits include a PowerPoint presentation with an instructor's DVD for use in class, patient handouts and educational brochures in English and Spanish. All materials were created in collaboration with the program's partners, including the ADA, Henry Schein Cares, the Foundation for Dental Health Education, the Alliance of the Georgia Dental Association and the Alliance of the Ohio Dental Association.

During the AADA convention, the Alliance House of Delegates adopted a new set of bylaws and will now be governed by a five-to-nine-member leadership council. The 2013-14 council elected are: Sue Ryser, Cottonwood Heights, Utah, president; Laurie Osborn, Knoxville, Tenn., president-elect; Patsy Dumas, Fort Wayne, Ind., immediate past president; Anne Morrison, Omaha, Neb., treasurer; and members Molly Bickford, Powder Springs, Ga.; Sharon Bryant, Dallas; Armella Glenn, Tulsa, Okla.; Sue Gardner, Chardon, Ohio; and Teresa Theurer, North Logan, Utah.

For more information about the H2T service project, Healthy Smiles from the Start or Alliance membership and governance, visit AllianceADA.org.