If the student population of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) were a city, it would be approximately the size of Detroit. How does a community care for a city-sized group of students who are learning and growing? Enter The Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health–an independent facilitator among the LAUSD schools, clinics, and community healthcare partners whose mission is to improve student health and increase readiness to learn through healthcare access, advocacy, and programs.
Dental pain is the number one reason why children miss school, and by third grade, tooth decay affects 71 percent of students in California (Dental Health Foundation). The L.A. Trust’s Oral Health Initiative is working to address these critical issues, and while the irony may not be lost on adults that most Sesame Street Muppets don’t have teeth, the educational impact these characters have on children to create healthy oral routines makes that irony beautiful.
In 2019, as part of a once-in-five-year oral health surveillance, L.A County is working with The L.A. Trust to obtain statewide data reaching 33 schools in LAUSD. As part, screenings are conducted with kindergartners and the “Brush with Elmo” video is used in an oral health education program demonstrating how to thoroughly brush teeth. The children sing the song with Elmo and practitioners reinforce the learning with the trusted tools. And with everything on SSIC being available in Spanish, the materials are more easily integrated into the county wherein 75 percent of parents and caregivers speak the language.