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The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
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The UT Urban Smiles Initiative and the Assisi Foundation of Memphis
Launch ‘Project Choppers’ to Teach Dental Hygiene to Children
Memphis, Tenn. (March 14, 2011) – The Urban Smiles initiative at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center has launched a new project to teach children to care for their teeth. Project Choppers is a fun coloring book that tells a story encouraging children to practice good habits in oral hygiene. With 10,000 copies in print, Project Choppers is distributed free to children ages 6 to 9 through Urban Smiles, a mobile dental hygiene service for underserved youth in the area. Urban Smiles is administered by students and faculty in the Department of Dental Hygiene at the UT College of Allied Health Sciences. The service is offered at grade schools and youth service organizations. The coloring books are distributed during the dental visits. To establish Project Choppers, Urban Smiles partnered with the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, which funded the production of the material.
“The children are enjoying the books and we’re excited about the partnership between Urban Smiles and the Assisi Foundation,” said Noma Anderson, PhD, professor and dean of the UT College of Allied Health Sciences. “Both partners have missions that include caring for the needs of urban children. Through the gift of these books, we can enhance a child’s experience with oral hygiene and dental care.”
“The book is more than a toy to be distributed to children,” said Cassandra Holder-Ballard, RDH, MPA, EdD, dental hygiene instructor and director of undergraduate programs for the UT College of Allied Health Sciences. “Children should be guided through the process of the dental hygiene story in the book.”
The coloring books were created as a result of concerns about dental decay in children and the prevention of dental disease. Jan Young, executive director of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, grew interested in the material and proceeded with funding its production. The material is educational, but also entertaining with large pictures, amusing dialogue, and questions that make children want to participate.
Currently, the coloring books are distributed to children at Urban Smiles sites which include: Shelby County Head Start programs, assigned elementary schools in the Memphis City Schools system, and Jubilee Schools – the branch of Catholic schools serving underrepresented minorities. Project Choppers is also available at the Children’s Museum of Memphis dental exhibit. Urban Smiles seeks to expand its service and Project Choppers to additional elementary schools and to pediatric clinics. If the project is effective, a series of coloring books may be considered.
About the Assisi Foundation of Memphis
The Assisi Foundation of Memphis is a private health legacy foundation created in 1994. Since its inception, the Assisi Foundation has provided more than $150,000,000 million in donations to qualified organizations and nonprofits in the Greater Memphis area. For more information, visit www.assisifoundation.org.
About the University of Tennessee Health Science Center
As the flagship statewide academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. In 2011, UT Health Science Center celebrates its centennial: 100 years advancing the future of health care. Offering a broad range of postgraduate training opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The UTHSC campus in Knoxville includes a College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, and an Allied Health Sciences unit. In addition, the UTHSC Chattanooga campus includes a College of Medicine and an Allied Health Sciences unit. Since its founding in 1911, UTHSC has educated and trained more than 53,000 health care professionals on campuses and in health care facilities across the state. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.
This study quantifies the economic impact of the UTHSC on the economy of the state of Tennessee for FY2010.
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