• Tue. Jun 28th, 2022

Contributed by Center for Closing the Health Gap

On February 19th, the Bootsy Collins Foundation hosted an oral health awareness event at the Cincinnati Museum Center to promote the importance of oral health and overall wellness. The event was part of the Kyle Willis Oral Care Program which Bootsy Collins and his wife, Pepperminte Patti, started in honor of their nephew Kyle who died of tooth decay left untreated. Kyle was only 26 years old and leaves behind a daughter. The Kyle Willis Oral Care Program, Bootsy Collins Foundation, Closing the Health Gap, Cincinnati Museum Center and Dr. Terrence S. Poole, DDS joined hands in partnership to provide an opportunity for hundreds of Tri-State families to learn about dental health in memory of Kyle. In addition, attendees were given the opportunity to get vaccinated on-site. Vaccinations were provided by Hamilton County Public Health.

The event featured story time and physical activity with Pepperminte Patti, who encouraged children to take care of their oral health stating that “the mouth is the gateway to your whole being and that if you are feeling pain in that area, it’s important to see a dentist.” The children were also enthused to learn new recipes and try healthy tooth friendly fruit popsicle treats and a delicious veggie snack provided by Chef Anthony Jordan and Closing the Health Gap, emphasizing the importance of building a strong and healthy body that can fight off infections through healthy diet. Entertainment included a clown and a magician. The children were also able to explore the Children’s Museum with a passport scavenger hunt activity that allowed them to learn more about oral health and earn a healthy snack provided by Closing the Health Gap and a dental care kit provided by Procter & Gamble to take home.

This family focused event allowed families free admission to the Cincinnati Children’s Museum and could not take place without The Cincinnati Museum’s contributions. Cincinnati Museum Center, President & CEO Elizabeth Pierce said, “Partnering with The Bootsy Collins Foundation and The Health Gap energizes me,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president & CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “These partners bring so much commitment to the community and energy to share creative joy and meaningful messages.  Patti has an army of volunteers who SHOW UP, bringing endless talents to entertain, educate and show our community love.”  The “Inside the Grin” exhibit allows children to explore the mouth, sit in an actual dental chair and take part in interactive activities that positively reinforce good dental hygiene.

Dr. Terrence S. Poole DDS gave praise highlighting Pepperminte Patti’s dedication to her nephew, and stated that “his death shouldn’t happen in a civilized society. Do not ignore dental pain or dental issues because it can lead to bigger issues. It is very important to see professionals.” Dr. Poole and his team provided the children a fun and unique hands-on opportunity to ask professional dentists questions and play with model teeth and dental health props to spark their curiosity. Ivory Ward DDS said the event was “energetic, I think the kids loved the props and it was great to interact with the parents.” Tera Poole DDS MS also mentioned “It was exciting to see the kids being excited to brush their teeth.”

Kyle’s story is what inspired former health commissioner Todd Portune to create the Hamilton County Oral Health Coalition, of which Renee Mahaffey Harris, President & CEO of Closing the Health Gap and Patti Collins, (Pepperminte Patti), of the Bootsy Collins Foundation are members. The coalition’s purpose is to “address the Oral Health needs of all citizens of Hamilton County, leveling health disparities, increasing access to care, and ensuring all an equitable opportunity for optimal oral health.” The coalition supports the Kyle Willis Oral Health Program and aligns with Closing the Health Gap’s mission to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities among underserved and marginalized communities in our region. Closing the Health Gap is a long-time partner with the Kyle Willis Oral Health Program & the Hamilton County Coalition and includes curriculum around Oral Health in their Do Right! Kids In-School initiative. Closing the Health Gap’s President & CEO, Renee Mahaffey Harris stated, “we are proud to be a part of this event and expanding education around oral health in our region and look forward to continuing to raise awareness on oral health in our schools and neighborhoods.”

You can view Kyle Willis’ story on YouTube at https://bit.ly/kylewillis and connect with Closing the Health Gap at www.ClosingtheHealthGap.org