LEC PA students partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters to teach about oral health


Thanks to the efforts of the Lake Erie College physician assistant (PA) program, students in area elementary schools are learning the importance of caring for their pearly whites.

A new initiative for teaching about oral health was made possible by PA student Ashlee Grow, PA-S. After submitting her project “Brushing Up on Oral Health” to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (nccPA) Health Foundation, Grow received an Oral Health Grant for the LEC PA program to bring educational programs to local elementary schools.

"I thought this health grant would be a great opportunity to engage our program with the Lake County community, especially the younger population," said Grow. "Not many young people know the importance of oral health, so I believe it is our duty as health care professionals to educate them on this subject."

Under Grow’s lead, the PA students at LEC have partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) to help spread their message. BBBS is an organization dedicated to helping every child succeed and thrive in life by way of positive relationships between adult volunteers known as “bigs” and children known as “littles.” 

The partnership kicked off with a visit on February 8, 2017 to Garfield Elementary School’s BBBS after-school program. Under the direction of the PA students, 20 third and fourth graders (BBBS littles) and 12 high school students (BBBS bigs) learned the importance of fluoride for tooth enamel, how to eat healthy meals to avoid cavities, proper ways to brush their teeth, and the importance of avoiding smoking because of its links to gum disease and cancer. Grant money from the nccPA went toward purchasing teeth models, anatomy charts, toothbrushes and other instructional materials to facilitate the lessons in a fun way. 

“The school visit at Garfield was a success,” said Grow. “We are looking forward to future visits to Perry, Brentmoor, and Jefferson Elementary Schools this coming March.”

To learn more about the PA program’s oral health programming, contact Ashlee Grow at agrow@lec.edu. More information on the nccPA Health Foundation and its funding, visit https://www.nccpa.net/oral-health.

 Students pictured (left to right): Ashlee Grow, Korey Koper, Dan Pritchard, Ebony Tinsley, and Julianne Knezovich

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