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NZ's most vulnerable to benefit from community dental grants

New Zealand’s most vulnerable to benefit from community dental grants

Some of New Zealand’s most ‘at-need’ citizens are the beneficiaries of eleven projects receiving US$35,000 in combined funding through the 2018 Community Service Grants by the Wrigley Company Foundation, with support from the New Zealand Dental Association.

Mental health patients, vulnerable children, rough sleepers, the elderly, abuse victims, refugees, high-risk ethnic groups and low-income families – in some of the most deprived regions of New Zealand – are amongst those supported by the programme, which returns for a seventh year.

NZDA CEO David Crum says, “Wrigley’s grants give a crucial helping hand to some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable people, and every year I’m blown away by the compassion shown by the amazing dentists who are making a huge difference in the lives of some of our most at-risk communities.”

A US$10,000 ‘Principals in Action’ grant has been awarded to a collaborative project spearheaded by the Canterbury District Health Board, which aims to tackle some of the oral health issues facing local mental health patients. The project includes oral health preventive care for adults with long term psychiatric illness – plus initiatives to raise awareness about a side-effect known as ‘dry mouth’, that mental health patients may experience after using psychotropic medication to treat their illness.

Treatment grants of US$3000 each have been awarded to five projects across the country, including the well-known Revive a Smile project, a seventh time recipient of the grant, this year taking its popular mobile clinic to the Ngarawahia and North Waikato to provide unemployed and low-income adults with essential dental treatment for acute oral health conditions including chronic pain.

Starship Children’s Hospital has won a US$1,000 education grant to support a programme to help children with heart conditions receive preventative oral hygiene care and advice during their medical check-ups, helping to close a gap for long-term patients who often don’t have access to such care.

In the Ruapehu region, an education grant will help support a new water-only policy at Raetihi Primary School, which has been working to address an unpleasant taste in its local water source, and will use the grant to fund a new drinking fountain as part of a programme to encourage children to drink only water.

“This year, we received 24 applications of merit from across the country and we are thrilled that funding from the grants will help tackle the clear disparities in the standards of oral health across New Zealand,” says Victoria Hamilton MARS New Zealand Corporate Affairs Manager and spokesperson for the Wrigley Company Foundation.

“The most high-risk and underserviced groups in our communities are less likely to maintain a good level of oral health as a result of these gaps, so the grants are vitally important to help dental professionals cover costs of supplies, treatments and other expenses for crucial oral health services.”

The grants awarded this year include five oral care education grants worth US$1,000 each, five treatment grants worth US$3,000 each, a US$10,000 ‘Principles in Action’ grant, and a US$5,000 ‘Pacific Region Dental Aid’ grant.


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