46 early childhood services throughout the South West are participating in the program which aims to improve the oral health of some of our youngest community members.
Smiles 4 Miles is an oral health promotion program for kindergarten-aged children. Developed by Dental Health Services Victoria, it's being implemented in partnership with South West Healthcare's South West Dental Service.
Participating kinders put in a massive amount of work to achieve the Smiles 4 Miles award by implementing healthy eating and oral health policies, engaging with families about the importance of oral health, and educating children through a variety of fun learning experiences based on the Smiles 4 Miles key messages of Drink well, Eat well and Clean well.
South West Dental Service's Smiles 4 Miles coordinator Ellie Wilson says the program is becoming a vital part of introducing healthy eating, drinking and oral hygiene to young children throughout our South West communities.
'The program is a great way to help children have healthy teeth and gums for life,' she says, adding 'Good habits are formed early. Children take lessons they learn at a young age with them, right up to adulthood. By promoting good oral health behaviours early in life we can decrease the likelihood of poor oral health later in life.'
The three steps to healthy teeth and gums are:
Newly-awarded Smiles 4 Miles early childhood services include many who've been working hard to achieve this prestigious credentialing for the past few years. Ellie says it's a huge achievement for them. In 2019, our South West region reached its highest number of Smiles 4 Miles awarded services ever.
1,294 children have so far benefitted from the 25 WARRNAMBOOL CITY early childhood services to participate in the program: Allansford Kindergarten, Beamish Street Kindergarten, Camperdown Kindergarten, Central Warrnambool Kindergarten, City Kindergarten, Dennington Kindergarten, East Warrnambool Kindergarten, Florence Collins Children's Services Complex, Goodstart Early Learning Centre Dennington, Honey Pot Child Care Centre (Koroit), Honey Pot Child Care Centre (Warrnambool), Koala Childcare and Early Learning Centre, Lions Hopkins Kindergarten, Mahogany Kindergarten, Matron Swinton Childcare Centre, North Edge Childcare Centre, Sherwood Park Childcare Centre, SIX Warrnambool Family Day Care locations, and Warrnambool South Kindergarten.
332 children have so far benefited from the 7 MOYNE SHIRE early childhood services to participate in the program: Chatsworth Occasional Care, Hawkesdale and District Family Services Centre, Koroit Kindergarten, Macarthur Kindergarten, Merri Kindergarten, Nullawarre Kindergarten, and Port Fairy and Community Services Centre.
308 children have so far benefitted from the 6 GLENELG SHIRE early childhood services to participate in the program: Dartmoor Children's Centre, Elsa Macleod Kindergarten, Heywood Kindergarten, Jaycee Kindergarten, Kalbarri Kindergarten, and Kathleen Millikan Centre.
283 children have so far benefitted from the 8 SOUTHERN GRAMPIANS SHIRE early childhood services participate in the program: Branxholme Kindergarten, Church Hill Kindergarten, Coleraine and District Kindergarten, Dunkeld Kindergarten, Mitchell Park Kindergarten, North Hamilton Kindergarten, Penshurst Preschool and Roscoe Avenue Children's Centre.
PHOTOS (and please note they were taken earlier this month, before social distancing was a thing): Attentive Warrnambool Kindergarten kids hang off SWH Dental Service oral health therapist Jacinta Nguyen's every word.