I believe in using my voice to bring attention to issues that impact me and my community, and I feel powerful sharing my perspectives on what other youth across Indian Country are experiencing. At the end of the day, I want to help ensure that native youth are happy, healthy and successful.
One issue that doesn’t get much attention, but should, is oral health. Almost half of Native American youth live in dental shortage areas and suffer from high rates of tooth decay as a result. Many youth are growing up with tooth pain, missing teeth or other health problems caused by dental disease. I recently lost a close relative to complications from an abscessed tooth. All of that could be prevented with better access to dental care. My family, my friends and everyone else throughout this country deserves better.
Tribes in Alaska were facing these same problems 10 years ago when they created a mid-level provider to expand dental services. Now, over 40,000 people in Alaska are getting care and they are already seeing cavity-free children.
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Tribes in Washington are now saying “enough is enough” and are planning to bring mid-level providers here. Just like tribes in Alaska led the way to better dental care, tribes are still leading the way so that children in our communities will no longer experience pain and disease. I’m proud of our tribes and I’m proud to share my voice.