Smiles 4 Miles, an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria, is implemented locally by South West Healthcare Community Health to improve the oral health of children and their families.
The award program recognises early childhood services for implementing healthy eating and oral health policies, engaging with families about the importance of oral health, and educating children through a variety of fun learning experiences based on the Smiles 4 Miles key messages: Drink well, Eat well and Clean well.
The latest kindergarten and day care services to successfully take up this challenge are from Macarthur, Warrnambool, Koroit, Portland, Casterton, Heywood, Hamilton, Branxholme and Camperdown.
Tooth decay, an oral disease, affects half of all children and adolescents and is five times more prevalent than asthma. In the last year alone, 61 percent of children attending SWH’s South West Dental Service in Warrnambool have had either fillings or extractions for decayed teeth. Children with tooth decay and poor oral health can have trouble eating, sleeping and paying attention at kinder and day care.
SWH Community Health health promotion officer Jacinta Lenehan is elated to see 18 more services awarded.
‘We know that good oral health is essential to overall health and wellbeing and it’s rewarding to see early childhood services achieve the award and know they’re teaching children these good habits early in life,’ she says.
SWH Community Health supports early childhood services in the Southern Grampians, Glenelg, Warrnambool and Moyne Local Government Areas to deliver Smiles 4 Miles. Yesterday’s forum and award ceremony was attended by 25 early childhood educators.
photo > Childhood educators Emily Shepherd from the Honey Pot Childcare Centre - Koroit (left) and Amy Chislett from the Honey Pot Childcare Centre - Warrnambool with SWH health promotion officer Jacinta Lenehan.