Nova Scotia

Children's dental program in North Preston celebrates 20th anniversary

The dental program for children in North Preston, N.S., is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Program is partnership between community, Dalhousie University and Halifax Regional School Board

Tony Atuanya smiles with pride when he talks about the dental program for children in North Preston, N.S. 
Tony Atuanya, president of the North Preston Community Education Council, said the dental clinic is a win-win-win for the community. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

For the last 20 years, the community has partnered with the school of dentistry at Dalhousie University and the Halifax Regional School Board to make sure local children get the dental care they need in a community that was previously underserved.

"It means so much," Atuanya, president of the North Preston Community Education Council. said in an interview Thursday. 

The clinic in North Preston's Nelson Whynder Elementary School employs one woman from the community full-time.

And one young woman who grew up with access to the clinic went on to take dentistry at Dal and is now "a full-fledged dentist out of North Preston," Atuanya said. 

Positive light

"That's a win-win-win all the way for the community when it comes to what has happened with the clinic," he said. 

Atuanya said the plan for the clinic started two decades ago after a provincial health department study showed a lot of young children in the school system had dental-health problems. At the same time, Dalhousie's faculty of dentistry was looking to set up a program to help kids get access to dentistry, he said.

"So the partnership group from that Dalhousie faculty came on board and worked with the education council and the Halifax school board gave us space for the clinic and that's how we got it set up 20 years ago," he said. 

On Thursday evening, the 20th anniversary was to be marked by a dinner, music and speeches from members of the community. 

Atuanya said he hopes this kind of event reflects North Preston in a positive light.