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GKAS Institute lessons fortify New York and North Carolina dental societies' events

March 18, 2015

By Jean Williams

Good sports: Children participating in Nassau County Dental Society's Feb. 6 GKAS Day greet Sparky the New York Islanders mascot.
At Give Kids A Smile events nationwide, the treatment part of the equation is what dentists do best. Inspiring happy faces during the events, however, can sometimes take a little extra handiwork.
Dr. Raymond Tseng, who organizes the North Carolina Dental Society's GKAS event, learned to solve the fun part of the equation last fall. That's when he joined nine others in St. Louis at the GKAS Institute. The education influenced how he folds in child's play.
"We changed our format this year," said Dr. Tseng of the Feb. 28 GKAS event. "Normally our event is geared up like a health fair for kids, so they go to six different stations. What we saw in St. Louis is you have to have a bunch of stations and a separate sort of prize room or party room at the end. We adopted that from the event in St. Louis.

GKAS Ambassador in N.C.: Dr. Raymond Tseng, smiling with a patient, attended the GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute in St. Louis and applied what he learned to North Carolina Dental Society's Feb. 28 GKAS event.
"That worked out better. It gave us a chance to talk with parents and the kids. We had face painters and balloon animals. It gives kids something to strive for, and it actually makes parents more motivated to do the events with their kids."
Dr. Joseph Brofsky, who organizes the Nassau County Dental Society GKAS event, is, like Dr. Tseng, a 2014 GKAS Institute Ambassador. At his Feb. 6 Give Kids A Smile Day event, he too made sure the kids had a great time, as was emphasized at the Institute. "Our venue, the Cradle of Aviation Museum, allowed them to see and learn about the history of flight, and the children absolutely loved seeing the airplanes and jets on display," Dr. Brofsky said. "The site also offers access to a Firefighter's Museum and a carousel, adding to the fun. To top it off, we provide entertainment and the costumed characters which bring smiles to their faces including, this year, Ronald McDonald, Mr. Met, and Sparky the New York Islanders mascot."
The annual GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute offers selected participants the opportunity to learn, in person, proven best practices to initiate, expand and/or enhance a GKAS program.  The GKAS Institute launched in 2011 and to date the program has graduated 37 GKAS Ambassadors, located across the U.S. The ADA Foundation sponsors the GKAS Institute with support from Henry Schein Cares and Hu-Friedy.

GKAS Ambassador in N.Y.: Dr. Joseph Brofsky is a GKAS Ambassador who applied tactics he learned at the GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute to Nassau County Dental Society's Feb. 6 GKAS Day event.
"Henry Schein is proud to continue our steadfast support of Give Kids A Smile through our global social responsibility program, Henry Schein Cares, working with our valued supplier partners, volunteer oral health care professionals and the American Dental Association Foundation," said Stanley M. Bergman, Henry Schein Inc. board chair and chief executive officer.
"With more than half of Americans suffering from periodontal disease and the widely recognized integral link between oral health and overall health, a lifetime of good oral health is vitally important. We remain deeply committed to working with the ADA Foundation and the ADA to lead this nationwide initiative to expand access to oral health care for underserved children and set them on the trajectory for a lifetime of good oral health."
Aside from ways to ensure the kids have a fun day, the GKAS Institute teaches plenty of other valuable lessons, according to Dr. Brofsky. "The Give Kids A Smile Institute impressed on me the need to plan to collect accurate statistics for this event," he said. "This year we were able to form a relationship with the masters in public health program at Hofstra University, and students in their program collected, recorded, and analyzed the data for us. The results are providing information that will lead to better follow up of children in need as well as ways to improve the program for next year."

Lending support: Mr. Stanley M. Bergman, Henry Schein Inc. board chair and chief executive officer, addresses participants and others interested in the Nassau County Dental Society's Feb. 6 GKAS Day event. Henry Schein Cares supported the Nassau County's annual GKAS event.
Networking with other GKAS organizers also yielded useful information for both Drs. Tseng and Brofsky for their respective events.
"From the didactic part where we sat around talking about different things, it was helpful to see what others had tried in terms of recruitment and supplies—just general logistics and organization of the event," Dr. Tseng said.
For Dr. Brofsky, that sort of networking was the most significant of the Institute lessons. "The Institute offered me an opportunity to network with and learn from my fellow participants. It also encouraged me to reach out to those in my geographical area who are similarly involved in Give Kids A Smile activities. Upon returning from the Institute, I shared what I had learned with the Suffolk County Dental Society and Stony Brook University Dental School, as well as the Farmingdale School of Dental Hygiene.

Funny face: A volunteer paints a young boy's face at North Carolina Dental Society's Feb. 28 GKAS event.
"I have also encouraged the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Cohen Children's Hospital to become involved in follow-up care and even have a Give Kids A Smile event of their own. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the Give Kids A Smile Institute and found it to be an extremely valuable experience."
Dr. Reneida Reyes, ADA Foundation board president, attended the Nassau County Dental Society GKAS event.
"Despite frigid Northeast single digit weather, Nassau County Dental Society had a successful GKAS event through collaboration with local political, corporate and community entities, including local hospitals and professional schools," she said. "They secured support from Henry Schein, Jet Blue Airlines, the New York Mets baseball team, the Islanders Hockey team, Ronald McDonald House, SUNY Stony Brook school of Dental Medicine—among many supporters—to ensure a successful event."
Dr. Reyes encourages GKAS program coordinators to apply to attend the Institute, which can help them discover ways to improve their GKAS event planning. "The GKAS Institute trains its participants in the development of successful programs by maximizing effective protocols," she said.
To apply to the 2015 GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute, which will take place October 21-24 in St. Louis, visit the GKAS website for information in mid-April.