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Mars Wrigley Foundation invests additional $3M in transformative oral health program with Save the Children

Next phase of the 11-year, $18 million partnership will improve health and nutrition education for over eight million children in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam

The Mars Wrigley Foundation Thursday announced a $3M, 3-year expansion of its Healthier Smiles program with Save the Children, which provides holistic oral health and nutrition training for teachers and needed dental services for underserved children around the world.

Since 2011, Healthier Smiles has reached 2.7 million children, parents, teachers and health workers, and delivered over 500,000 oral health services in six countries.

The next phase of work will improve the oral health of over eight million children in Indonesiathe Philippines and Vietnam through direct interventions and sustainable education policy shifts in 17,000+ schools, and mass distribution of school health and nutrition resources. The project is designed to ensure that children are healthy and safe by providing access to inclusive, community services and information both at home and in school.

“The Mars Wrigley Foundation works to address oral health education and care in areas where people face very real challenges to their happiness and wellbeing,” said Anne Vela-Wagner, Executive Director of the Mars Wrigley Foundation. “The partnership with Save the Children has steadfastly focused on children’s oral health and fundamental wellbeing needs so more children stay in school and reach their full potential.”

Oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people globally, often resulting in pain and isolation that translate to lost hours at school and work. In over a decade of work together, the Healthier Smiles program has evolved to also address the root causes of these diseases among children, including lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene, malnutrition and access to basic health services.

“We know that brain, physical and social development of kids in the first years of life are incredibly important. If health issues aren’t addressed early enough, it’s harder for kids to learn,” said Janti Soeripto, President and CEO of Save the Children. “Together, with the Mars Wrigley Foundation, we’ve helped strengthen communities and supported millions of children and families.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic made it even more difficult for children to access critical health, hygiene and education resources, the Mars Wrigley Foundation supported Save the Children’s response, distributing nutritious food, hygiene kits, handwashing stations and more to children and adults in need across ChinaIndia and Indonesia. The collaboration also provided health and nutrition education and built capacity among teachers to deliver this information to students.

The deep partnership between the Mars Wrigley Foundation and Save the Children is complemented by ongoing efforts between the nonprofit and Mars, Inc. to improve the lives of people in communities where we operate and engage Mars Associates in skills-based projects around the globe through the Mars Ambassador Program. All these programs demonstrate a shared commitment to innovative collaboration toward a healthy world.

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Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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