"Tooth Fairy" takes over lessons for EBR students

Each Friday in February, elementary kids from the East Baton Rouge Parish School System are trading their ABCs, for just "ah."

That's because the kids are getting a lesson in dental hygiene.  It's a part of National Give Kids a Smile Day, where dentists all over the country take the day to give free exams to elementary students.

"Parents, for a lack of resources, lack of time, don't get the opportunity to get their child to a dentist. So by doing the screening in the office, we can let the parents know if there are any dental needs that need to be taken care of," said dentist Dr. Johnnie Hunt.

"We believe that our mission is the most important. We keep kids healthy so they can stay in school and learn. There's a direct connection between education and health. If you're not healthy, it will be really hard to be educated," said the CEO of Health Centers in Schools Sue Catching.

This trip to the dentist is just one of several mobile health programs done for students in partnership with Health Centers in Schools, a subsidiary of Our Lady of the Lake Hospitals.

The center brings physicians, nurse practitioners, optometrists and more directly to students to help encourage a healthy lifestyle.

"Out of the 45,000 kids that we interact with about 80 percent of them are at or below the federal poverty level," said Catching.  "Most of them don't have transportation to get to the doctor to the dentist or to the optometrist."

That is why programs like GKAS are important for kids.  Through these visits, they get the healthy lessons they need and to them it's all fun.

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