Community Connections



From the #deltadentalARFoundation: Larry’s Pizza in Bryant and Conway was THE place to be in early April. On two consecutive Saturdays, about 30 youngsters played, learned and snacked at each location while their parents enjoyed some me-time.

The kids romped around courtesy (and supervision) of Community Connections, a Conway-based nonprofit that offers free extra-curricular activities for children with special needs and support for their families.

It started in 2007 with a theater program for 25 participants and has since grown to more than 20 activities in 13 Arkansas cities. Hundreds of Arkansans ages 5-25 with Down Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Spina bifida and more benefit from sports, arts and family resources each year.

But the organization’s fastest-growing program is respite care, reports executive director Courtney Leach.

Community Connections hosts such 3-hour events each month at three different locations in Central Arkansas to provide short-term relief from caregiving duties for parents. Medical professionals like nurses and occupational therapists are in charge, assisted by several volunteers trained to work with special-needs children. They instruct the youngsters in arts and crafts, sports and—thanks to a #communitygrant from the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation—oral hygiene. 

The program participants learn how to care for their teeth through fun and play. They practice correct brushing and flossing on the dental models of stuffed animals, take the Say No to Cavities challenge and complete coloring charts of happy and sad teeth. Spoiler alert: A sad tooth is full of decay caused by candy and sugar; a happy tooth sparkles. Each participant also receives a dental hygiene kit and instructions to take home.

Meanwhile, their parents or caregivers have some precious time to themselves.

The mornings offer entertaining yet educational life lessons for the young charges and their families. Community Connections primarily serves children from low-income households who face the added challenge of having a mental or physical disability. These limitations make families less likely to prioritize oral hygiene unless they receive the know-how and encouragement.

Oral health know-how and encouragement—yes. Does your organization offer such programs? Let us help you with funding. Visit our funding page here.


This story was first published on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Teeth Picture


2 boys with coloring sheets


Community Connections Group Photo

Community Connections