HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum St. Louis is pleased to announce the debut of its new Virtual Classroom, a tremendous resource for educators and families interested in helping area children learn more about the many things they can do to protect and improve their health from the safety of their homes. The project is supported by a $200,000 grant that HealthWorks! received from Delta Dental of Missouri earlier this year to help continue to fund the facility’s unique programming aimed at educating and inspiring children and families to make positive oral and overall health choices. Delta Dental of Missouri, the state’s leading dental benefits company, is deeply committed to advancing oral health and overall health for individuals, children and families in the communities it serves and has been a long-time supporter of HealthWorks! and its mission.
HealthWorks recently had to temporarily close its physical location due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but recognizing the important role the museum plays as a partner for area educators and parents, leadership decided to accelerate the planned Virtual Classroom project so it could continue to have a positive impact. With a portion of the funding from Delta Dental, and additional support from the Jefferson Foundation and Dana Brown Charitable Trust, HealthWorks launched the new virtual classroom as a way to continue to educate children and their caregivers while adhering to current social distancing requirements. With a few short clicks, children and family members can easily access videos, activities, games and even books on a variety of health-related subjects, including anatomy, hygiene, nutrition, physical activity, oral health, sleep, mental and emotional health and health careers. The engaging resources can be accessed at hwstl.org/health-resources/virtual-classroom/.
“We can’t think of a better time to launch our Interactive Classroom than right now given that we can’t welcome visitors to the museum itself and so many children are at home looking for activities to engage them,” said Shannon Laine, president and CEO of HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum St. Louis. “Our primary focus is on helping to reduce kid’s health risks by making health education fun, so we’re confident that those utilizing the Virtual Classroom will find countless ways to benefit from the great tools we’ve assembled while staying ‘edutained’”.
HealthWorks! also plans to use additional funding from the Delta Dental grant to build and maintain interactive exhibits at the museum, which is eager to reopen when deemed safe to do so. Benefiting exhibits include the Giant Teeth, Dental Office, Mouth Theatre, Oral Health Learning Theatre, Grossology Sniff Sniff, Farmer’s Market, Interactive Dude’s Face and Tobacco exhibits. These exhibits reinforce oral health habits and teach necessary skills for proper oral health, providing kids with the tools to demonstrate proper brushing technique, identify the cause of bad breath, see the effects of tobacco use and more.
The museum will also leverage the donation to invest in oral health tools for 6,000 visiting children to take care of their smiles at home and provide access to valuable oral health information. Furthermore, 8,000 children and caregivers will now be able to participate in oral health-specific learning theatre programs during their visit once the museum is back open. The grant funding also provided for dental screenings, oral health goodie bags and dental resources to more than 350 children and caregivers that participated in the Magical Smiles Oral Health Event that was held on February 8th, 2020.
“Oral health education is necessary to a child’s development, and we are proud to be able to supply children with important health lessons they can apply to their daily lives,” said Laine. “We are grateful for the generous support from Delta Dental of Missouri and our other wonderful supporters, and we look forward to continuing to educate children and caregivers about their health in fun, interactive ways and provide them with resources they otherwise may not have had access to.”
Inspired by 38 years of successfully educating children and families on the importance of oral health, Delta Dental Health Theatre expanded and transitioned into HealthWorks! in 2016. Since then, the organization has continued to support the museum in its efforts toward improving the lives and health of children and caregivers throughout the St. Louis region.
HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum St. Louis is located at 1100 Macklind Ave., St. Louis, MO, 63110. To learn more, call 314-241-7391, visit www.hwstl.org, like the museum on Facebook or follow them on Instagram @healthworkskidsstl.
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