Can an old dog really learn new tricks?

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a “Learning Session” attached to one of our many grants. Grant funds pay for all of the programs that we administer or undertake for the communities we serve, here, in southwest Colorado. In this case, the “learning” was 2-days of working with other community health organizations that had received the same funds for their rural oral health programs, which are all similar to our Skippy program, in that they serve the needs of an otherwise underserved population.

First of all, good call Caring for Colorado Foundation, to have these intensive and lengthy meetings in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science! How fun and cool is that?! On the short breaks and hour-long lunches we could walk around and take in the sights and sounds of lots and lots of kids, parents, teachers, visitors and those just curious to learn, walking around this really wonderful building full of information and education, located in the most beautiful and picturesque setting. Staff members walked around in fabulous dinosaur skeleton replications; it’s something you really have to see to appreciate, and the kids ran around them giggling and screaming and giggling some more. Most of all…..they were all-of-a-sudden, interested in knowing more.

The sheer number of people in the museum both days we were there was amazing….and motivating. All of these people, young, old and in-between, all wanting to learn, absorb, be invigorated and stimulated by all of this knowledge. It was positively catching!

So, the “Learning Session”, which just a day ago, I had only been marginally excited to attend, began to take on a whole new feeling for me. If all of these people decided to spend their day voluntarily watching and listening and learning, then maybe I should open up my old and tired brain to this new experience, as well.

All of a sudden, I felt energized and engaged in learning from all of our Colorado colleagues who were sharing stories about their trial and errors, successful and not-so-successful endeavors, new ways of engaging their rural communities and collaborations and lots of new and better ways to provide these much-needed oral healthcare services to all of the underserved kids in our communities.

So, yes; an old dog (that would be me) can learn new tricks….and be renewed and rejuvenated in the process. Stay tuned for the direct results of all this learning in our Skippy program! We are currently investigating new “virtual dental home” methodologies and potential new treatments.

For anyone unfamiliar with the benefits of Skippy, this is a long-standing program designed to provide school-based, mobile oral healthcare services to any unserved child, ages 0-13, in San Miguel, Ouray, Montrose and Delta counties, through one of the 16 schools we currently serve. Registered dental hygienists provide children with oral health screenings, cleanings, sealants and fluoride treatments, regardless of their ability to pay. If you know of a child who is not regularly seeing a dentist every 6 months, they need to be enrolled in Skippy today. Ask your child’s school if they are a Skippy participant or call us at 970.708.7096 for more information. For better oral healthcare for the child in your life, become an old dog and learn some new tricks!

By Michelle Featheringill, Director of Development

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