Tennessee Department of Health Deputy Commissioner for Population Health Michael Warren, MD, MPH visited the Northeast Regional Health Office and the Washington County Health Department Dec. 19th to confer Bright Spot Gold Level Awards for two outstanding community-based public health programs. The Dental Primary Prevention Team from the regional health office and the Washington County Health Department health education team received plaques and state-level recognition for implementing programs that can be replicated in communities throughout Tennessee.
The Dental Primary Prevention Team held 62 educational events during 2016-2017 throughout the region in schools, preschools, daycare centers and other community venues reaching almost 100,000 people. Children and adults learn the importance of healthy habits and lifestyles for good oral health.
“We want people to know brushing twice a day, flossing daily, omitting tobacco, limiting sugary drinks and snacks while increasing water consumption can help reduce tooth decay,” said Regional Dental Director Alisa Cade, DDS. “Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease. It is five times more common than asthma and four times more common than childhood obesity.”
Superheroes Working Against Tobacco, or SWAT is the Bright Spot educational program brought into 4th-7th grade classrooms in local schools and youth programs by health educators from the Washington County Health Department. The SWAT program incorporates fun activities while educating youth about the different types of tobacco products, marketing strategies of tobacco companies and the effects tobacco and smoke have on the body. Over the past three years, more than 2,000 students have participated in the SWAT program.
“By the end of the four-session series students understand health hazards, second- and third-hand smoke exposure and how to resist peer pressure,” said Washington County Health Department Health Educator Becky McKinney. “We are proud of how well received this program has been!”
These community-based educational programs are part of the Tennessee Department of Health’s Primary Prevention Initiative, or PPI started in 2013.
“Every employee participates in PPI projects to eliminate risk factors for later health problems within their communities in hopes of reducing chronic disease brought on by behaviors such as physical inactivity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and substance misuse,” said Washington County Health Director Christen Minnick.
For more information on these programs contact the Washington County Health Department at (423) 975-2200.