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Becoming Give Kids A Smile ambassadors

Program coordinators learn new ways in providing oral health care services for underserved children

December 10, 2019

By Kimber Solana

GKAS group photo 2
GKAS ambassadors: (Bottom row, from left) Shanna Jennings, Lisa Staples and Dr. Rominder Kaur; (middle row, from left) William Panzarino, Caitlin Baker, Glenda Bell and Dr. Lynn Marsh; (top row, from left) Amanda Schwenk, Duran Mootry and Dr. Clayton Cheung share their smiles during the 2019 Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute held in October in St. Louis. 
St. Louis — As a dentist in a public health clinic in Ft. Morgan, Colorado, Dr. Rominder Kaur understands the dental care needs of children living in rural areas, along with limited resources.
   
“Some of our patients travel long distances from other rural counties to get dental treatment,” she said. “Some of the uninsured children have to wait for [a Give Kids A Smile] event in order to get their treatment completed.”
   
Since 2010, Dr. Kaur has organized the GKAS program in Ft. Morgan, a community of about 11,000 in northeast Colorado. She said she’s always wanted to make the program run more smoothly and better organized.
   
“I would like our program to be worth our patients wait and time,” she said.

Dr. Kaur was among 10 new GKAS ambassadors who attended the 2019 Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute in October, an opportunity for GKAS program coordinators to learn new approaches to providing oral health care services for underserved children.
   
The GKAS institute, a three-day training session held annually in St. Louis, also allows selected GKAS program coordinators to share best practices and explore outreach enhancements.
   
Each year, Give Kids A Smile is celebrated nationally on the first Friday in February. GKAS events do not have to take place in February, and many take place throughout the year. GKAS programs are intended as touch points for children who do not receive dental care. The ultimate goal is to establish a dental home for these children and continuity of care, according to the ADA.
   
At Salud Family Health Center, Dr. Kaur said, its GKAS program seeks to provide access to dental care for as many underserved, migrant children in northeast Colorado as possible. Last year, its GKAS event saw 29 children in the Ft. Morgan clinic, providing comprehensive dental exams including radiographs, pulpotomies, stainless steel crowns, space maintainers, extractions, restorations, sealants, fluoride varnish and patient/parent education.
   
“I was amazed to witness the organization, teamwork and the ongoing commitment of the volunteers at the GKAS institute,” she said. “The institute gave us the opportunity to exchange ideas and solution to issues our programs encountered.”
   
In addition to education sessions, the program coordinators worked during the October St. Louis GKAS Clinic in a variety of capacities, including being clinic escorts, working at the check-in/check-out process, sterilization area, photography, triage area, education area and entertainment area.
   
“I am looking forward to our GKAS even on Feb. 7, 2020, and planning to utilize everything I learned from the institute,” Dr. Kaur said. “I feel confident that with the resources provided by the institute, our GKAS event will be a huge success in 2020.”
   
Since 2011, about 90 GKAS program coordinators have completed training at the St. Louis GKAS Institute. Program coordinators who complete training are eligible to become a GKAS ambassador.
   
Program coordinators who applied and were chosen for this year's event received travel stipends to cover their travel expenses thanks to GKAS Institute sponsors Hu-Friedy and Henry Schein Cares.
   
The application period for the 2020 GKAS Institute will open April 1 through May 31. For more information on the institute, visit ADAFoundation.org.