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University of Louisville students don’t trick schoolchildren for Halloween

November 02, 2015

By David Burger

Halloween mission: Dental students from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry gather before embarking on a trip to local schools to educate them on oral health care during Halloween.
Louisville, Ky. — Dental students at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry gave local schoolchildren an early treat Oct. 23 when they visited six local elementary schools dressed as costumed characters.

The outreach program by the 120 first-year dental students was meant to drive home both the importance of everyday dental hygiene and tips for staying healthy during Halloween week and beyond.

“This has been a tradition for 13 years,” said Meredith Kinch, who along with Hannah Jackson organized the Halloween program.

The 120 dental students broke up into groups and visited six schools in the Louisville area: Bowen, Cochrane, Taylor, Jeffersontown, Kenwood and Okolona. In all, the dental students taught 3,500 schoolchildren about dental careers and dental hygiene and distributed free toothbrushes and toothpaste.

The toothbrushes and toothpaste were procured with a grant from the Blackerby Foundation.

Some of the dental students dressed in costumes that included eight tooth fairies, three rabbits and six Chick-fil-A cows. The Louisville Water Company sent its own volunteer to be “Tapper,” a tap water dispenser.

The costuming was a chance for the dental students to dress up once this Halloween season, Ms. Kinch and Ms. Jackson said, since most were planning on studying Halloween night to get ready for two big exams the following week. 

Ms. Jackson said the outreach program prepared dental students to become active in the communities in which they were serve in the future. “When we’re professionals, we’ll be leaders,” she said. 

Besides the Halloween program, students volunteer regularly at the local Ronald McDonald House.

Over the past 13 years, dental students visited 69 schools and about 35,000 children through the Halloween outreach project organized through the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, Family Youth Resource directors and Northwest Area Health Education Center.