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Thursday, May 5, 2016

N-Sta-Smile ... Coming to a cafeteria near you

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Several months ago, Kerry Evans, a local man, went to the Highland School Board with an idea that came to him in a dream 20 years ago. Some may think this is crazy but he believed in the vision he had, so much, that now, 20 years later, his dream is becoming a reality.

From the time most children are able to do so, they are taught that they should brush their teeth at least three times a day. Some parents are great at enforcing this rule, and their children develop a habit that is soon interrupted by a school day.

Once children are in school, they do not have the resources available to brush their teeth during the day. This has just been accepted and ignored, until now. "There is no reason why children can't brush their teeth at school," Evans said. "I just wish I would have done this 20 years ago when I first had the dream."

Evans plans on introducing a program that will provide every student in every school throughout the United States with a toothbrush daily. While he realizes this is a huge goal to meet, he has already conquered the hardest step, getting started.

On April 6, Evans made an appearance at the Highland High School and presented his plan to the students. During their lunch hour, a small prepasted toothbrush was provided to every student who wanted one.

While prepasted brushes are not a new product, Evans said as far as he knows Highland is the first school in the U.S. to provide their students with them. The brushes are very small and the bristles are coated with a low foaming, non-fluoride paste that requires no spitting or rinsing.

The design leaves little room for anyone to make excuses for not brushing the recommended three times a day, if not more.

"By providing toothbrushes at school, we know that the kids are brushing their teeth at least once a day," Evans said. "Statistics show that brushing just once a day can add up to a year and a half to a person's life."

Evans said the program was well received at the high school. The following day he presented his plan, and brushes, to the middle school and April 8 he finished with the elementary. Evans said all went better than he had hoped for, which gave him added confidence.

"This is just a test run (in Highland) we will see how this goes and hopefully it will be something that is integrated into the lunch program."

According to Evans, the idea approved by the school board, is to send a note home informing parents of the program. The note will ask parents to pay $9 per semester for the toothbrushes to be provided.

While he is hopeful that parents will support the program, he does have a back-up plan. In order to cover the cost that parents are unable or unwilling to pay, he said he will ask area residents and businesses to "sponsor" the program by paying the difference.

"If this test run goes well next year we will try to integrate the cost of the brushes into the lunch price," he said. "It breaks down somewhere between 9 and 12 cents per day, per student - not too much to ask when it comes to their health."

The brushes are optional to the high schoolers and they can take them out of the lunch room to use them. The elementary students, because of their age, will have a brush placed on their lunch tray, those who bring sack lunches will be able to get one each day as well.

The elementary students are not allowed to take the brushes out of the cafeteria. While it is optional for them to use the toothbrushes at the end of lunch all brushes are to be placed inside of their milk cartons and disposed of.

As for other schools, Evans is taking this one step at a time as to not get overwhelmed. He said they have already received more orders than ever expected and hopefully this business will bring much needed jobs to the area as well.

The N-Sta-Smile brushes are also available to consumers in bulk or in small blister packs. Some local businesses have already placed them on their shelves.

Within the last month, Evans has also placed five vending machines in various places loaded with the handy brushes to see how that catches on.

"We are hoping to market to places like restaurants, bars, airports, casinos - anywhere people might feel they need to brush their teeth."

Evans can be reached at his office located within Wolff Creek Realty on Main Street Hardy. The office number is 870-856-2087.

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