Seniors inspire change with dental hygiene non-profit

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Dental health is not the first thing people think of when considering ways in which they can make an impact in their community. For seniors Quinn McElroy-Fuchs and Haley Fisher, however, it seemed like a natural place to provide care for young children.

“[Dental disease is] the most prevalent and preventable childhood ailment in the U.S. today,” McElroy-Fuchs says. So she decided to start Operation Tooth Fairy as her Girl Scout Gold Award project after she saw a young girl suffering from severe tooth decay while shadowing at a low-income elementary school in Vancouver. Fisher is a Girl Scout with McElroy-Fuchs and she became involved when she saw McElroy-Fuchs’ work.

The organization makes and distributes information and kits to children in low-income families from 0-5 years old in order to teach them how to care for their teeth.

The organization’s kits contain a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and a dental care information sheet. The information sheets come in seven languages to make sure that families from diverse backgrounds receive information. “She wanted to make sure that since [dental hygiene] is so important, that everyone has access to [dental hygiene products],” Fisher says.

After receiving a grant from Peace First, McElroy-Fuchs was invited along with Fisher and other representatives from the group to attend Peace First’s Accelerator Event in Ohio with five other groups from across the United States. After pitching the project, they received additional funds and McElroy-Fuchs has been mentored by Peace First for the last six months.

McElroy-Fuchs has gotten a younger troop of Girl Scouts involved to continue the project in Portland and plans to help out and make it into a non-profit while she attends the School of Nursing at the University of Portland.