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Blinn College Dental Hygiene Program promotes oral health during local Christmas parades

Students, faculty continue 19-year tradition of distributing toothbrushes to parade goers

December 14, 2017

Perched atop a Whoville-themed float, students and faculty from Blinn College’s Dental Hygiene Program, dressed as characters from Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” smiled and waved as they tossed toothbrushes to crowds of parade goers.

Continuing a tradition started in 1998, dental hygiene students and faculty once again made their annual appearance in two local Christmas parades – the B/CS Christmas Parade and Downtown Bryan Lighted Christmas Parade – to promote the importance of good oral health in the community.

“This is one of many community service projects our students participate in throughout the year,” Dental Hygiene Instructor Marque Mathis said. “We use it as a platform to promote the dental resources we provide to the community, as well as the program itself to prospective students.”

For the past two decades, second-year dental hygiene students have organized a parade committee and appointed a committee chair to lead the project. Students spend months of free time perfecting their float and costume designs for the parades.

During the parades, students, faculty, and their families toss out approximately 2,000 toothbrushes wrapped in a flyer containing information about year-round discounted cleanings and screenings offered to the public at the Blinn Dental Hygiene Center, located at 301 Post Office St. in Bryan. During the sessions, which are $20 per person, dental hygiene students provide dental cleanings, x-rays, fluoride, oral cancer inspections, and sealants. For more information, call 979-209-7283.

“This is a great way for us to build camaraderie within our program while helping those in our community,” said dental hygiene student Madison Cammack, this year’s parade committee chair. “We are able to spread the word about our discounted dental resources, which in turn gives us more experience working with real patients.”

Their dedication and creativity earned the students a first place prize in this year’s B/CS Christmas Parade’s collegiate schools category.

In addition to discounted cleanings and screenings, Blinn has teamed with area dental professionals for nine consecutive years to provide free dental services to children at its annual Give Kids a Smile event. The program, an initiative of the American Dental Association, provides exams, x-rays, cleanings, sealants, tooth prints, fluoride, and oral health education to local children without access to regular dental care.

The 10th annual Give Kids a Smile will be April 5, 2018, at the Blinn Dental Hygiene Center.

Blinn’s commitment to serving the community has not gone unnoticed. Last year, the College was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest accolade an educational institution can receive from the federal government for its commitment to community, service learning and civic engagement.

In 2015, Blinn was recertified with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Carnegie Classification, which places Blinn among the nation’s top 5 percent of colleges and universities in terms of documented public service. The Carnegie Classification, reassigned every five years, is the leading framework for recognizing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past five decades.

Blinn’s Service Learning Program, which combines community service with classroom instruction and student club activities, focuses on critical, reflective thinking, and civic responsibility to engage students. Blinn’s Service Learning activities include the Dental Hygiene Program’s annual Give Kids a Smile event in Bryan; EMS, vocational nursing and associate degree nursing students volunteering at local clinics and hospitals; natural science students volunteering at local animal shelters; agricultural students working with Texas Parks and Wildlife and 4-H organizations; and social sciences students volunteering at local Democratic and Republican headquarters.

Registration for the Spring semester is open through Monday, Jan. 15. College officials encourage early registration for convenient scheduling and placement in high-demand courses.

For enrollment or financial aid information, visit www.blinn.edu.