Thanks to the efforts of the Lake Erie College physician assistant program, students in area elementary schools are learning the importance of caring for their pearly whites.
A new initiative for teaching about oral health was made possible by PA student Ashlee Grow. After submitting her project, “Brushing Up on Oral Health,” to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants Health Foundation, Grow received an oral health grant for the college’s PA program to bring educational programs to local elementary schools.
“I thought this health grant would be a great opportunity to engage our program with the Lake County community, especially the younger population,” Grow says. “Not many young people know the importance of oral health, so I believe it is our duty as health care professionals to educate them on this subject.”
Under Grow’s lead, the PA students at LEC have partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters to help spread their message. BBBS is an organization dedicated to helping every child succeed and thrive in life by way of positive relationships between adult volunteers (known as “bigs”) and children known (“littles”).
The partnership kicked off with a visit in February to Garfield Elementary School’s Big Brothers Big Sisters after-school program. Under the direction of the PA students, 20 third- and fourth-graders “littles” and 12 high school “bigs” at the Mentor school learned the importance of fluoride for tooth enamel, how to eat healthy meals to avoid cavities, proper ways to brush their teeth and the importance of avoiding smoking because of its links to gum disease and cancer. Grant money from the health foundation went toward purchasing teeth models, anatomy charts, toothbrushes and other instructional materials to facilitate the lessons in a fun way.
“The school visit at Garfield was a success,” Grow says. Given that success, additional visits were planned to Perry, Brentmoor and Jefferson elementary schools.
To learn more about the PA program’s oral health programming, contact Ashlee Grow at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the nccPA Health Foundation and its funding, visit
Lake Erie College, founded in 1856, provides distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs grounded in the liberal arts. LEC offers 35 undergraduate majors and master’s programs in business administration, education and physician assistant studies.