Alyssa, a first-grader at Cimarron Elementary, got an unexpected surprise during class on the afternoon of May 9. Just before school was dismissed that day, Alyssa’s mother, Heather, and Cimarron’s school nurse, appeared in her classroom with something a little out of the ordinary. Alyssa gasped and her classmates cheered when Rudolph announced that the Alyssa was the winner of a beautiful, two-wheeled bicycle.
The bike was presented by Chopper Toppers, a program that provides free dental screenings, preventative sealants, dental referrals and oral health education to children in need. Chopper Toppers works with the Cherry Creek School District and the school nurses at Arrowhead, Polton, Red Hawk Ridge and Sagebrush elementary schools, as well as the district’s 11 Title I elementary schools, where more than 50 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Together, they support students’ oral health, which is critical to their ability to learn.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. About one in five children between the ages of 5 and 11 have at least one untreated, decayed tooth. The percentage of children between the ages of 5 and 19 with untreated tooth decay is more than double among low-income families in comparison to children of higher-income households.
Chopper Toppers provides free screenings, fluoride treatments and sealants to students in primary (first, second or third) grades and offers a free bicycle to any school where 90% or more of primary students participate in Chopper Toppers or another dental health program.
Cimarron hit that mark and as a result, Alyssa now has a new bicycle to enjoy. She’s looking forward to putting her stuffed animal “Woofie” in the basket and giving him a ride around her neighborhood.