SmileStrong this Spring: Distributing 3,000 Dental Kits to Native Communities Across the Country

In June, Spirit Lake Tribal Health, which serves the people of the Spirit Lake Nation in North Dakota, distributed Running Strong for American Indian Youth® SmileStrong dental kits to 200 children.

A mother and her two young children were among those grateful to receive the dental kits containing several toothbrushes, a six-month supply of toothpaste, dental floss picks and information on the importance of proper brushing and flossing.

“The children were surprised that they didn’t have to pay,” commented one staff member at Spirit Lake Tribal Health, who worked with Running Strong to distribute the dental kits to the children.

“We have a lot of families with children living below the poverty level,” she reported, adding that they are appreciative of all that’s received.

“They are very thankful,” she told us.

In May, another Running Strong program partner, Indian Camp Elementary in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, also distributed 200 SmileStrong kits to students just before the end of the school year, ensuring that students would be able to brush and floss all summer long.

Indian Camp Elementary School, located on the Osage Nation Reservation, serves a student body where the majority of students are eligible for free/reduced price meals.

“We are a lower-income school,” reported program partner Grace, noting that many of the children live at or below the poverty level.

“Now we can all have a new toothbrush,” commented another young recipient.

“Many people in our community were helped with the dental kits,” Grace told us. “One child mentioned he was going to take the dental kit to his dad’s house because he didn’t have a toothbrush at his dad’s house.

“All of the items that we received were very much appreciated by our students and parents.”

Spirit Lake Tribal Health and Indian Camp Elementary were among the 17 Running Strong program partners throughout Indian Country who distributed 3,000 SmileStrong kits this spring – including our own field office, Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home), on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Thanks to our supporters, thousands of Native children will be able to practice proper oral hygiene to “smile strong” for a lifetime.

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