Yesterday, students from Duke’s Project BUILD program assembled 300 dental health kits for young children enrolled in NC Pre-K. These wonderful volunteers spent the afternoon sorting, labeling, wrapping, collating, and assembling kits that include toothbrushes, toothpaste, washcloths, flossing tools, activity booklets, coloring pages and crayons, and books about visiting the dentist.
Efforts to create the dental kits first began in early spring during our 2014 Great Human Race campaign where – through many generous donations – we raised nearly $3,000 in funds! We are incredibly grateful to all of our private donors who supported this cause, as well as our sponsors: DenTek Oral Care, Dr. Gary Hill, Duke Pediatric Dentistry, Durham Dentistry, MicroMedic Web Services, Office Depot, and Telepathic Graphics.
Our mission in participating in the Great Human Race was to address the crisis of poor dental health in young children. We know that children with healthy teeth have better attendance and are more attentive in school, have the self confidence that comes with an attractive smile, and have a better chance of good general health. Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, and in Durham County, 17% of kindergartners have untreated tooth decay. Preventive dental care is the best way to ensure proper oral hygiene is a part of a child’s daily routine and that children are receiving regular dental cleanings.
With these dental health kits, we hope to provide these young children with some of the most basic supplies necessary for proper oral health so that we can combat this crisis at an early age. The kits will be given to NC Pre-K directors who will then distribute the kits to students after the start of the school year.
Project BUILD (Building Undergraduate Involvement in the Life of Durham) is a pre-orientation program at Duke where students engage in service to the Durham community. Students visit a comprehensive array of community service sites in Durham over the course of the 8-day program, connecting freshmen with upperclassmen who are involved all over campus and, when the semester begins, supporting freshmen participants as they transition into lasting commitments within the Durham and Duke community. We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with Project BUILD and thank them again for their hard work in building the dental kits!