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Deadline fast approaching to apply for 2015 GKAS Institute

April 20, 2015

By Jean Williams

GKAS coordinators could be steps away from a more efficient, productive and satisfying Give Kids A Smile program by applying to attend the 2015 GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute.  The application deadline is May 11.

Set for Oct. 21-24 in St. Louis, the GKAS Institute prepares participants to become GKAS Ambassadors—coordinators who have been taught to approach their GKAS planning through proven best practices for initiating, expanding and/or enhancing a GKAS program.

Selected applicants, who must reside in one of the U.S. 50 states, receive travel grants to participate. Applications from state and local dental societies and community-based organizations providing oral health care for underserved children during GKAS will be considered.

Last fall, the GKAS Institute hosted 10 ambassadors. The next class of GKAS Ambassadors also will include 10 individuals.

“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 and a 2014 GKAS Ambassador.

“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.”

Candidates must demonstrate commitment and ability to begin a new GKAS program or enhance an existing one; have experience with managing/chairing an access to care event; and hold a position in their organization that will allow them to effectively implement lessons learned during the GKAS Institute. Applicants do not have to be a licensed dentist or hygienist.

While their own home GKAS programs will be the proving grounds for implementing their acquired leadership and development skills and GKAS best practices, the training ground is the St. Louis GKAS fall program. The 2015 GKAS Ambassadors will participate in educational sessions and also serve as volunteers at the event, which will provide comprehensive oral health care to about 650 underserved children.

Ambassadors will receive hands-on experience at the longest running GKAS event in the nation while serving as clinic escorts, or in areas such as check-in/check-out, sterilization, photography, triage, education, entertainment and more.

The GKAS Institute launched in 2011 and to date the program has graduated 37 GKAS Ambassadors, located across the U.S.  Henry Schein Cares and Hu-Friedy sponsor the GKAS Institute in collaboration with the ADA Foundation.

To access the GKAS Institute application, visit and type “GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute” in the search field. For more information, email