Continuing to fulfill its mission of holistic service, the SYF started a new partnership with Cedars-Sinai’s Healthy Smiles program this summer. Part of the COACH for Kids mobile health care program, Healthy Smiles brings free dental care to the city’s poorest neighborhoods, where youth are disproportionately affected by tooth decay — the most common chronic infectious disease in children.
“We are delighted to partner with the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation to provide education and screenings to keep SYF kids healthy,” says COACH for Kids Program Director Michele Rigsby Pauley.
“Unfortunately, many children suffer needlessly from tooth pain, miss hours or days of school, have difficulty concentrating or behaving, and have trouble sleeping and/or eating,” says registered dental hygienist Jill Zappia, who — with her assistant, Cynthia — provided dental services to children and conducted outreach with parents at the Century, Compton, South L.A. and Parks Bureau YALs and the Century boxing facility throughout the summer.
“The kids who attend the YALs live in the neighborhoods and attend the schools where we provide our services throughout the year,” says Zappia. “Through the three parts of our Healthy Smiles Program — screenings, education and follow-up — we are able to reach some of these kids who otherwise might not know the importance of good oral health, what their own role is in it and how to access dental care to achieve it.”
The Healthy Smiles program will be visiting all the YAL centers in the future, and the services will expand to include vision and medical screenings, as well as vaccinations.