As I write this, I’m looking out at a world of snow and bare tree limbs. But the sun is out, the sky is a brilliant blue, and the temperatures at least are in double digits – it’s a promising sign of spring, and for me, spring means Give Kids a Smile (GKAS).
Since 2007, the NYS Dental Foundation has given out close to $300,000 to community health centers or service programs as part of its GKAS Award program. In choosing our recipients, our Board recognizes innovation, improved outcomes, and the incorporation of education, screening, prevention and access. Most years, the Foundation honors multiple organizations.
Among our past recipients is PRASAD Children’s Dental Health Program, which has actually won multiple times, for the simple reason that everything it does raises awareness among the community at large that children deserve optimum oral health.
PRASAD CDHP delivers comprehensive services, including education, prevention, detection and treatment, via a state-of-the-art mobile clinic, which alleviates transportation issues within rural Sullivan County, where there is a lack of public transportation. Services are provided through arrangements with schools and local agencies such as Sullivan County Public Health and the Head Start program.
I’ve had the pleasure to present the GKAS Award to PRASAD in person, and each time, I was joined by the entire Sullivan County Legislature as well as many other policymakers and stakeholders. Clearly, PRASAD has a presence and sets an example from which so many organizations statewide can learn.
Leading the dental component of PRASAD is Dr. Cecilia Escarra, who explains why PRASAD works: “We are passionate about our work because we know the difference it makes in children’s overall well-being now and throughout their lives.”
Among the patients who have benefited greatly from PRASAD are adorable sisters Queenie, 6, and Melanie, 7, have been receiving dental treatment and education from PRASAD CDHP since 2017. Their mother Qiian Zhen Liu shared that because the PRASAD dental team specializes in children, she trusts PRASAD’s care and experience.
Ms. Liu and the children have learned about and practice flossing and brushing their teeth twice daily. PRASAD CDHP also provides her children with toothbrushes and floss. She added, “Queenie loves to come, and Melanie, who was nervous at first because she used to have many cavities, is now no longer fearful. It’s a very good program; I love bringing the kids there. The doctors give me good advice. I tell my neighbors to take their kids to PRASAD.”
The Liu family’s story is just one example of why the community trusts PRASAD CDHP. Community members are happy to have easily accessible and affordable expert dental care that specializes in children treating the whole family with kindness and care and teaches them how to take care of their teeth so that they can look forward to a lifetime of healthy, happy smiles.
PRASAD is just one of many organizations that the NYS Dental Foundation has been able to help annually, and I can’t lie – presenting the GKAS Award, visiting these programs, is truly one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as NYSDF Chair. To see people hard at work, sharing a passion for improving oral health, and to be but a small part of that, is heartening, and is an excellent example of what your Foundation does on behalf of the profession and the public it serves.
If you know an organization like PRASAD that is worthy of consideration, we are accepting GKAS Award applications for 2023 till April 1. Each awardee will receive up to $5,000, as determined by the full Board. For more information and to access the application, click here.