Alice Grasveld (ACTA): The Healthy Teeth Foundation

Alice Grasveld (VU-ACTA): The Healthy Teeth Foundation (THTF): A participatory action research into oral health amongst disadvantaged children aged 4-12 in the Schilderswijk, The Hague, The Netherlands

My dream is a world in wich every child can go to school, whether it comes from the townships in Africa or from poor or rich neighbourhoods in the West. Nelson Mandela rightfully stated: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’.

Unfortunately 80% of the children in the African townships has tooth decay and therefore tooth ache is one of the most important reasons for school absenteeism. Also in The Netherlands in poor neighbourhoods 75% of the children from mothers with a migration background has toothdecay.

So because of bad teeth and tooth ache, children don’t go to school and are stuck in the poverty trap. That’s why The Healthy Teeth Foundation conducts Participatory Action Research into oral health amongst disadvantaged children. We did projects in the slums in Kenya en South-Africa and now we want to do a project in the Schilderswijk in The Hague.

Participatory Action Research is participatory, so together with the community, it is research into the root causes and outcomes of poor oral health and it is action: we co-create an action plan together with the local stakeholders to improve oral health in children. When children have a better oral health, this improves their general health and they will go to school more often and they will have a brighter future.