Community coalition helps Overtown children get back to school

MIAMI – There are less than two weeks before many students in South Florida will go back to school, that’s why local charities and doctors came together today to help give students more than just supplies.  

“Doing the application of a fluoride treatment,” Dr. Marco Contreras showed CBS4 what he was doing during an exam.

Contreras was one of a handful of dentists with Angels for Humanity, a non-profit serving underserved communities. 

This Thursday, he was giving dental check-ups at the Back to School Health and Wellness Fair at the Charles L. Williams Community Center.  

“No cavities,” Contreras said.  

Dental screenings, just one of the things that can get overlooked when there’s a lack of access and or money is a factor. 

Contreras is trying to help the underserved, he’s not only volunteered overseas but wants to give back to those near his home.

“Everything is going up, so they will be more focused more on buying the food than taking care of the teeth, going to the dentist, or using a new toothbrush or new toothpaste,” he warned.

Now, Contreras is worried about how a rough economy could impact children from low-income backgrounds.  

Just taking a look at Overtown, one study from FIU published first in 2016 showed that the poverty rate there was at 39%, compared to that of 12% in South Miami. 

Meanwhile, the median household income was just over $30,700. 

However, the median income for Miami-Dade County was $44,224.  

So, low-income families may even have a harder time getting the care they need to prevent disease later.

“If you don’t take a small cavity away just a doing a filling it will turn into a root canal, if you don’t that it can develop an abscess and destroy the bones,” Contreras explained.

It was a coalition of community groups that helped to put the event, including the Tracy and Alonzo Mourning Family Foundation, the Caleb and Calder Sloan Foundation, and Honey Shine among others.  

Though the fair had free backpacks, crafts, and super slides, there was a concerted focus on health services.

“Examine the children not only from a medical standpoint but a dental standpoint from an eye vision standpoint, hearing, these are the essential senses that children need to learn well at school,” Dr. Angelo Gousse, Angels for Humanity President said.

A short check-up now could help those living below the poverty far into the future.  

“I look into their eyes and see the emotions of these children getting a book bag, getting their hair cut, braided, and doing some dental work, just a smile alone is worth it all,” Henry Fernandez, Faith Center Church Sunrise, Senior Pastor.  

The saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, at the fair in Overtown Thursday, a whole lot of people from many villages came out to show love.  

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