Tyler McKee, a first-year Master of Public Health student in the College of Health Professions, squatted down the end of two short tables where eight kindergarteners, looking a little nervous and antsy, squirmed in tiny classroom seats.
“Hello, friends! I’m Mr. Tyler. But you can call me Tyler,” said McKee in a bright, welcoming tone. “Do you like puzzles?”
With that the boys and girls from Stocking Elementary transformed from nervous to excited. A few replied “yes,” others’ eyes lit up as they nodded.
McKee was one of about 20 MPH students at Stocking on Tuesday as part of the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program in partnership with Grand Valley and Grand Rapids Public Schools.
The event, which continues with visits to three more GRPS elementary schools this week, combines dental screenings by local dentist offices with kid-friendly activities built around the eight dimensions of wellness.
Ranelle Brew, professor and director of the Master of Public Health program, said the outreach creates opportunities for Grand Valley students to get experience working with children to teach different aspects of wellness while providing wellness lessons and preventative screening to the children.
“This is an underserved population that is sometimes not readily accessing services like dental care,” Brew said.