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New GKAS ambassadors complete Institute training

November 03, 2014

by Stacie Crozier

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2014 GKAS ambassadors: Participants for the GKAS Community Leadership and Development Institute in St. Louis include, front row, top to bottom, Dr. Dorothy Theogene, Tampa, Fla; Joseph Yoo, Sandy, Utah; Dr. Raymond J. Tseng, Cary, N.C.; Dr. Sergio Nadler, Warren, Ohio; Dr. Barry Conger, Taholah, Wash.; Rachel Lovejoy, returning ambassador, Springville, Utah; Dr. Leslie E. Grant, ADA GKAS National Advisory Committee, Baltimore, Md.; and Dr. Megha Sata, Lawndale, Calif.; back row, top to bottom, Jessica Park, Richmond, Va.; Dr. Joseph Brofsky, Woodmere, N.Y.; Cory Spencer, returning ambassador, Santa Rosa, Calif.; Dr. Scott Morita, Honolulu; and Lora Mattsen, Milwaukie, Ore.
St. Louis —
Sharing success stories, brainstorming on challenges in their own communities and lending a hand for kids in need, 10 new ambassadors completed their intensive training at the fourth ADA Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute Oct. 22-25 in the city where the ADA's national access to care program for children was born.

"The Give Kids A Smile Institute offers a unique opportunity for national GKAS program managers to share best practices, explore outreach enhancements and learn new approaches to rendering care in a multi-volunteer environment," said Dr. Leslie E. Grant, a member of the ADA's GKAS National Advisory Committee. "The GKAS Institute has successfully provided a tremendous level of training to nearly 40 ambassadors from all around the country. These individuals now serve as regional resources for other GKAS programs."

Ambassadors spent the first day and a half brainstorming and networking and the last two days volunteering at the St. Louis Give Kids A Smile fall clinic, which served more than 400 children and provided  more than $350,000 in dental care.

"Attending the GKAS leadership has been a game changer," said Dr. Raymond Tseng, chair of the North Carolina Dental Society Committee on Children's Dental Health Programs. "Whether your event primarily consists of health education, screening and prevention or comprehensive care, this Institute allows for the exchange of ideas, and more importantly solutions to issues and barriers that we've all faced. The mixture of group discussions and guided dialogue is complemented by the chance to see a well-developed program in action, and the ability to speak to volunteers, organizers, school nurses, parents and kids."

Dr. Tseng said his participation as a 2014 ambassador has inspired him to make new program resources available to all GKAS organizers in his state, and to reinvigorate and redefine how GKAS programs, big or small, can help the children in North Carolina.

Dr. Megha Sata, dental director for the South Bay Children's Health Center and Community Outreach chair for the Western Los Angeles Dental Society said the Institute "brought together like-minded individuals who are focused on creating events that promote happier and healthier children. The camaraderie, open forum and experience at the St. Louis clinic inspired me with innovative ideas to expand my GKAS event in Lawndale, California."

2014 ambassadors included seven dentists, a dental student and two dental society staff. Participants were from California, Hawaii, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

"GKAS Institute has been an amazing, eye-opening experience," said Joseph J. Yoo, a fourth year dental student at Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine in South Jordan, Utah. "I received invaluable resources and tips to solve the issues that our GKAS had. I also enjoyed the opportunity to observe St. Louis GKAS (which started it all) and to build camaraderie with the other ambassadors through discussions, helping out in the clinic, and last but not least, going out for a night on the town after the day was over. It was quite a special and uplifting experience that renewed the sense of pride I had about my profession. If I could, I would attend the GKAS Institute every year."

Ambassadors who applied and were chosen for this year's event received grants to cover their travel expenses thanks to the generosity of GKAS Institute sponsors HuFriedy, Henry Schein Cares and the ADA Foundation.

For more information on the Institute, visit ADA.org/en/public-programs and click on the GKAS link on the left side of the page. Watch the ADA News for more details on how to register for the 2015 GKAS Institute.