March 16th, 2016 Last Updated on: March 16th, 2016
Miss Native American USA, Kristina Hyatt, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation the last week of February as part of her Smile Drive 2016 through America's ToothFairy: National Children's Oral Health Foundation ®. MNAUSA Hyatt and MNAUSA staff members traveled across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation visiting area schools and distributed over 13,000 oral hygiene products to the students, products donated from across the country.
MNAUSA Hyatt visited 11 schools across the Oglala Lakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota and three Head Start programs in Rapid City as part of the National Children's Dental Health Month. MNAUSA Hyatt, a Dental Hygienist spoke about the importance of oral health care among Native American Communities. Forty percent of children on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation suffer from moderate to urgent dental needs, including infections and other problems that could be life-threatening according to W.K. Kellogg Foundation. After her presentation and singing the “Tooth Brush” song, MNAUSA distributed oral health care kits, hand-written notes from the children of Cherokee, North Carolina, Hyatt's hometown, and hugs.
“I have looked forward to visiting Pine Ridge and surrounding schools for several months. It was a busy time, but I enjoyed every single moment. Every single child and every single smile made me feel like I was making a difference. I can't wait to visit again! The children are so special and have so much potential. Hearing them sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' to me in their Lakota language made my heart happy. They welcomed me with open arms and for that, I am grateful. They will surely be in my prayers. Until we meet again, remember the brushing song and take care of your teeth for a beautiful, healthy smile.” – MNAUSA Kristina Hyatt
During her South Dakota Tour, MNAUSA also stopped at the local Boys & Girls Club of America in Pine Ridge and the B.E.A.R. Youth Program, a local suicide prevention program run by local volunteers where she met Yvonne “Tiny” DeCory, founder of “Be Excited About Reading.” MNAUSA donated oral hygiene products to both locations before visiting the Indian Health Services' Dental Clinic of Pine Ridge where she toured the local dental clinic with the guidance of Nicole Glines, a local Dental Hygienist.
During the week-long tour, MNAUSA visited: Martin Day School (Martin, SD), Batesland Elementary School (Batesland, SD), Wolf Creek School (Pine Ridge, SD), Red Cloud Indian School (Pine Ridge, SD), Little Wound School (Kyle, SD), Porcupine Public School (Porcupine, SD), Our Lady of Lourdes (Porcupine, SD), Pine Ridge Elementary School, (Pine Ridge, SD), Pine Ridge Head Start Program (Pine Ridge, SD), Loneman Head Start I&II, and Loneman Day School (Oglala, SD). MNAUSA also visited three Head Start locations in Rapid City, SD, Rural America Initiatives Head Start Programs, where she distributed more oral hygiene kits to the students.
“Traveling across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was such an eye-opening experience for all of us in our group. The long distance driving from school to school was well worth it. It was an indescribably experience to meet all the students and see their sparkling eyes and their overwhelming excitement to meet Miss Native American USA Kristina Hyatt. The beauty of the Lakota people, their continuous efforts to keep their traditions, their cultures, and their language alive was evident at every location we visited. At Little Wound School in Kyle, we were greeted by a couple of students who were offering us the sweet grass smudging to begin our day; we all blessed ourselves before our presentation to the students. We would like to thank the people of the Pine Ridge communities as well as the wonderful staff members at each location for welcoming us. Particular thanks go out to: America’s ToothFairy Foundation, Yvonne “Tiny” DeCory and Eileen Janis of the B.E.A.R. Youth Program, Health Occupation Students of American (HOSA) of Sioux Falls, the community of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Phoenix Indian Health Center, — and a huge thank you to Nicole Glines, Dental Hygienist of Pine Ridge Dental Clinic for your guidance and support throughout our travels.” – DeWayne Dawson MNAUSA PR
MNAUSA Hyatt traveled with MNAUSA CEO, Tashina Atine (Arizona) of the Navajo Tribe, MNAUSA Publicist, DeWayne Dawson (California) of the Navajo Tribe, and MNAUSA Hyatt's cousin Joseph Solis (North Carolina) or the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
MNAUSA Kristina Hyatt's next stop on her 2016 America's ToothFairy Smile Drive will be on April 7th-9th in New Mexico. MNAUSA will visit the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and Acoma Pueblo Tribes.
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