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Nova dental student-run GKAS event continues to grow

Community outreach efforts bring 325 children to school for dental care

April 07, 2014

By Kimber Solana, ADA News staff

Clowning around:Lotsy Dotsy the clown from Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital makes a child laugh during Nova Southeastern University's student-run Give Kids A Smile event held March 8. In all, 325 children received free dental care valued at $115,000.
Twin set: Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine students and twin sisters Mor Dagan (left) and Shachar Dagan examine a child during the school's Give Kids A Smile March 8 event.
Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Fla.—Nova Southeastern University's student-run Give Kids A Smile March 8 event provided dental care to about 325 children—the most in its 11-year history.

"We really open the doors for many children to start dental care and treatment throughout their lives," said co-organizer Keren Castelluci, NSU dental student.

The GKAS event, held at NSU College of Dental Medicine, has continued to grow in recent years as organizers reach out to local Boys & Girls Clubs, local churches and other after-school organizations. This year, the event expanded its social media efforts by promoting the GKAS event through Facebook.

The expanded outreach efforts have paid off. Two years ago, the event served about 100 children, said Ms. Castelluci.

"Last year, we saw about 200 kids," she added. "GKAS has become one of the biggest, if not already the biggest, community outreach to children in our community."

Nearly 300 volunteers donated dental services valued at more than $115,000 to South Florida children 2-18 years old. Those services included fluoride varnishes, sealants, fillings and oral hygiene instructions.

The more than 1,000 attendees enjoyed a carnival atmosphere with Miami Dolphins player Marcus Thigpen, cheerleaders, face painters, a clown, magicians and musicians.

Involvement within the school has also grown as students become more aware of, and more excited about GKAS, said Dr. Amanda Buscemi, NSU dental resident. At their first day of dental school, students learn about our GKAS event from orientation.

"GKAS is a rewarding experience not only for the children but also the students. For some dental students, this is their first time interacting with a young patient," she said.

"Community service is one of NSU's core values and we are dedicated to working with our partners to help children and their parents in South Florida and beyond understand the importance of oral health."