Improving Children's Health

January 4, 2019


Board members and staff of the Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona enjoyed a visit to a local elementary school watching first graders learn about healthy drinks and healthy teeth.

Funded by the Legacy Foundation, the education is provided by University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.

First graders learned about "go" drinks, drinks that are good for you and your teeth such as water, and "whoa" drinks, drinks that are bad for you and your teeth such as soda pop. They also have a hands-on application where the children measure out the amount of teaspoons of sugar in one of the "whoa" drinks to visualize how much sugar they are consuming in that drink. The daily recommendation of sugar consumption for children ages 2-18 is less than 6 teaspoons, according to the American Heart Association. A single can of soda pop contains 8 teaspoons of sugar.

The children learned about brushing their teeth, how often and for how long, and what too much sugar does to your teeth and to your body. The children enjoyed passing around and brushing the teeth of a big blue dragon while they named one “go” drink and one “whoa” drink. Many of them knew the answers to “how often should you brush?” (Twice a day) and “for how long should you brush?” (Two minutes). At the completion of the activity children were given a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, an educational coloring page, and a two-minute timer.

Elisabeth Tyndall, early childhood nutrition educator and volunteer program coordinator for U. of A. Cooperative Extension, coordinates volunteers to present the programs to the youth.

The Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona has a mission to improve population health and community wellness. Working with partners like the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension to improve dental care, reduce sugar consumption, and improve overall health of school age children is an example of fulfilling that mission.