The Children’s Oral Health Institute was named the winner of the 2020 National Indian Health Board (NIHB) National Impact Award, recognizing the nonprofit’s commitment to oral health education and the impact that its Lessons in a Lunch Box program continues to make in American Indian country among elementary school children and their families.
Dr. Winifred J. Booker, CEO of the Children’s Oral Health Institute, accepted the award during a virtual ceremony on October 14 during the Annual National Indian Health Board Conference. Booker, who also is the immediate past president of the Society of American Indian Dentists (SAID), acknowledged the leadership and members of SAID for their outstanding contributions in delivering the health education program.
SAID’s commitment to the program has benefitted 11 states, including all five elementary schools on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in South Dakota, Booker said.
“This honor is a credit to the benevolent spirits of the SAID and so many members of corporate and organized dentistry,” said Dr. Jeremy John, SAID president.
Lessons in a Lunch Box delivers health education in an orange lunchbox and a dental carrot case with the support of volunteers from the dental profession. The lunchbox and case are designed to reinforce good oral hygiene practices, encourage a healthy diet and portion control, and promote interest in dental healthcare careers. A lunchbox and toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss stored inside the case are provided to every child.
“I have brought the Lessons in a Lunch Box program to schools on reservations in Montana and Wyoming that have been very successful. If it were possible, I would take this education program to every American Indian reservation in the country,” said Dr. Sandra Wilson, dental clinic director for the Indian Health Service and SAID board member.
Also, SAID member Dr. Jessica Rickert submitted the award nomination and has been instrumental in collaborating with the Michigan Dental Society to expand Lessons in a Lunch Box in that state, the Children’s Oral Health Institute said.
The Children’s Oral Health Institute Board expressed immense pride for receiving the 2020 National Impact Award for the outreach afforded to American Indian, Alaska Native, and children throughout the country. This recognition of service and dedication to oral health education and disease prevention is a first for dentistry by the NIHB.
“This year’s recipients are an exceptional group,” said NIHB CEO Stacy A. Bolen.