Sonshine Club projects are an important addition to our work with children, and complement our day-to-day activities. Their importance is significant as they are designed to address specific problem issues that have been identified within our community.
A recent project is outlined below, it was designed to have a long-term, direct impact on children's daily lives and involved considerable cooperation with local schools, parents, carers and local authorities.
Oral Health Week for Schools
In 2020 Sunshine Club introduced an Oral Health programme commissioned by the London Borough of Hackney as part of their ‘Healthy Ideas’ initiative.
OJ schools located in the London Borough of Hackney that took part in the project were asked the question:
Will having an Oral Health Week embedded in the curriculum of local schools increase OJ children’s understanding of the importance of dental care?
The purpose was to establish whether participating in school lessons linked to dental hygiene, by using practical projects during normal day-to-day activities, would highlight the importance of oral health and encourage its continuation. Activities included scientific experiments, music and drama, art & craft and cooking/food (nutritional information). Each school was supplied with educational packs containing detailed, recommended lessons and a specifically produced 16 page booklet, along with feedback forms for children and teachers. The packs were used by the schools’ own teachers, aided by a nutrition expert.
Evaluation methods were used during the project including a parents' information leaflet. Response forms were created to find out how teachers, children and parents reacted to the project during and after the oral week, enabling them to raise questions and submit assessments. There were formal and informal interviews with parents, children and teachers. A control form was circulated before, at the end of the project and after three months to establish what the children knew about looking after their teeth.
The project was run in two schools: a girls' school with 250 children aged between 6 and 9 and a boys' school with 150 children.
The project has proved very successful, with one comment taken from the control form written by a teacher saying: One pupil wrote that “brushing your teeth is very important to keep it healthy”. Another responded to the question: What happens to your teeth if not brushed regularly every day? by writing: “they crumble away and get lots of germs”.
Since the Oral Health Week in 2020, two other schools have used this model using their own resources, and currently all four schools educate children using this approach when they reach KS1-2. That brings the number of children benefiting from the project to 2,000 to date.