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Barnardos Aotearoa And Health NZ | Te Whatu Ora Partner In Christchurch To Promote Healthy Smiles Among Tamariki

Barnardos Early Learning Services is thrilled to be working with Health NZ in Canterbury to launch the Waitaha Toothbrushing Programme in our two early learning centres in Christchurch.

Te Puna Oraka and Hornby Pasifika early learning centres are embracing this initiative, particularly during a time when many whānau are struggling to meet the cost of basic needs. Initially, small groups of tamariki will receive toothbrushes and toothpaste to participate in activities focused on dental hygiene. As these groups gain confidence and establish routines, the initiative will expand to include more tamariki from the early learning centres.

"This is a fantastic initiative, which goes beyond daily toothbrushing and setting up good habits. It is also about breaking down some of the barriers for whānau in accessing dental care by bringing services to them, eliminating the cost of dental products, and empowering the whole whānau," says Heather Taylor, General Manager Barnardos Early Learning and National Services.

"Dental hygiene is a significant challenge for many tamariki across the motu, with whānau often facing tough financial choices. We are excited about initiatives like this that support whānau with their oral health," she adds.

The programme also includes the distribution of dental packs to the parents and caregivers of participating tamariki. Additionally, kaiako and Health NZ kaimahi will engage in regular kōrero with whānau about oral hygiene during drop-off and pick-up times. Ongoing support from Health NZ kaimahi will be available to our centres and whānau for 12 months.

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Health NZ initiated this programme in response to the high rates of dental decay among tamariki in Waitaha | Canterbury. It aims to foster positive oral health behaviours in tamariki and establish lifelong healthy habits.

"Teeth brushing can be a challenging time for parents or caregivers, so we hope to provide guidance and tips to help tamariki brush their teeth properly and confidently. We are pleased to have the support of Barnardos Aotearoa in rolling out this programme," says Laura Brown, Health Promotion Advisor Early Childhood for the National Public Health Service.

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