Health E. Hound to visit Alpena

ALPENA — An initiative that started with the Alpena Boys and Girls Club and United Healthcare Community Plan in Cheboygan that promotes good oral hygiene for children is being implemented in other markets around the country.

The program is called “Healthy Teeth, Healthy You” and focuses on educating youngsters on the importance of brushing their teeth.

Club Unit Director Jennifer Digna said staff at the club noticed some of the younger children were not brushing regularly or properly and the former program wasn’t peaking interest with enough kids. United Healthcare was brought on board, and with the help of mascot Dr. Health E. Hound the kids, ages six to nine years old, learned how taking care of their teeth and gums would improve their overall health and how often they should visit a dentist.

Digna said the program started in the summer of 2016 and there were about 80 kids who participated.

“We realized brushing their teeth wasn’t a main component of their day and we needed to strive to improve their knowledge and promote and encourage healthy habits,” Digna said. “Since then kids ask for toothbrushes and toothpaste more regularly now.”

The kids keep track of how many times they brush their teeth and as a reward for being consistent, children who brush twice a day for a duration of time are entered into a drawing for a Subway gift card.

Digna said knowing that other clubs and organizations that work with kids are beginning to implement the same initiative that began in Alpena makes everyone proud, including the kids.

“We’re proud that something that started here has spread to help people,” she said. “I think it shows the passion we have to not only the kids we have, but also for the kids in the communities that surround us.”

Digna said Dr. Health E. Hound, along with a representative of United Healthcare, will be returning to the club on Nov. 3 at 2:30 p.m. and children ages six to nine are invited to come say hello and get a photo with him. Each child will receive a free toothbrush and tube of toothpaste from Hound.

“It is a big deal for the kids,” she said. “They are excited and they will be able to get pictures taken with him and continue to learn about proper oral hygiene and the importance of it.”

For more information contact Alpena Boys and Girls Club at 356-0214.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.