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Pilot project will encourage toothbrushing in school

As an intern at the Sonoma County Health Department, Sarah Fisher was developing a oral health workshop for kindergartners when she had a sobering realization.

“I was shocked at the level of advanced dental disease that some of the children experienced," said Fisher, who is a pre-dental student at Santa Rosa Junior College. "Many of the kids did not realize that oral pain is not normal."

Fisher wanted to help. And as a participant in the Stanford Leadership Education for Aspiring Physicians (LEAP) academy, she had the support she needed to approach the problem. The program brings together college students interested in health careers from the greater San Francisco Bay Area to develop networking skills and to pursue a final project that addresses a community health challenge. The group meets twice monthly during the academic year on Saturdays.

For part of her final project (she also launched a pre-dental club at her school), Fisher is working to implement mandatory tooth brushing following lunch at an elementary school in Santa Rosa.

She has met with school officials, city leaders, and a dentist and dental educators and now plans to start a pilot project this fall.

"Everyone has been so supportive," Fisher said. "We received 800 fluoride varnish kits and I have a meeting with the partners to discuss seed funding for the pilot."

Earlier this month, Fisher joined her fellow LEAP students to present their projects to community partners and organizations, family and friends and educators from their home institutions. Projects included a pesticide reform initiative in Salinas, HIV prevention through outreach to high-risk college students, Latinx perspectives on mental health and a faith-based fitness initiative.

In addition, several LEAP projects will be featured at a community engagement symposium on campus tomorrow, June 24.

Previously: Considering premed? Some things to think about..., "Ultimately about discovery": High-school students experience hands-on biology research and Aspiring young doctors learn the ropes during Stanford summer program
Image by metsi

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