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On August 25, Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky announced the inception of a program intended to bring dental health care to children in the state's impoverished Appalachia region. This new initiative, entitled Smiling Schools, will be implemented as a pilot program throughout the duration of the 2011-2012 school year, according to University of Kentucky News.
Beshear made the announcement of Smiling Schools at two venues - the University of Kentucky's College of Dentistry in Lexington and Dennis Wooton Elementary School in Hazard.
The program is a joint effort between the state and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The latter organization promotes advocacy for those in Appalachia, a region passing through Kentucky and several other states, characterized by high levels of economic distress among many residents. Kentucky will provide $250,000 for Smiling Schools, while the ARC will donate $1 million.
Beshear publicly stated his high hopes and intentions for the program during the announcement.
"We know that children learn best when they are healthy," he told the news source. "We also know that dental health is a key component of overall health."
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research states that 23 percent of children and teens aged 2 to 19 suffer from untreated tooth decay. Children in families with lower incomes generally have a higher prevalence of decay.
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