The New York State Dental Foundation’s Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) Awards spotlight innovative and engaging oral health programs and activities from organizations across the State.
This year the Foundation awarded more than $10,000 in cash and materials to three organizations in support of their pediatric oral health outreaches.
This year’s GKAS winners are: the Discovery Center of the Southern Tier, PRASAD Children’s Dental Health Program and Touro College of Dental Medicine.
A key factor in determining which organizations will receive a GKAS Award is to recognize which groups are making significant impacts on the most vulnerable of our population. Often, these organizations are working against all odds, with limited budgets. In 2020, the sheer scale of the COVID-19 crisis put grant makers, including the Foundation, in triage mode. The Foundation’s Charitable Awards Committee, which makes funding recommendations to the full Board, has had to make hard choices to determine which urgent needs most warranted support. There is little doubt that this decision framework will carry well into 2021.
COVID-19 is not the only external factor impacting the Foundation’s GKAS Award decision making. “Children and adolescents in the U.S. have made substantial oral health gains in recent years,” states Foundation Chair, Dr. G. Kirk Gleason. “However, there remain persistent disparities in oral health status between white and other racial/ethnic groups and between higher- and lower-income groups of all ages.”
Discovery Center of the Southern Tier of New York
The Foundation donated $4,000 to the Discovery Center of the Southern Tier to help completion of the revamped “Open Wide” dental exhibit.
The Discovery Center is a chartered educational children's museum that offers interactive learning support for families and public and private educational facilities. Exhibits, many of which interactive, at the Discovery Center serve as an educational tool for schools, families and organizations that seek to foster educational and community learning activities. The mission of the Discovery Center of the Southern Tier is to develop the intellectual, physical and emotional well-being of the children of the Southern Tier through participatory exhibits and programs that engage the senses, challenge the mind and offer a diverse framework for discovery in the arts, sciences and humanities.
Open Wide, which was first established in 2009 to provide children with an introduction to the idea of dental care and treatment, does not, in and of itself, serve as a mechanism for providing direct dental care, but it is able to educate children through role play throughout the year about the importance of good oral health, while at the same time promoting an interest in dental profession as a future career. The interactive nature of the exhibit, which enables kids to "diagnose" x-rays and "examine" the oral cavity further serves to demystify the dental visit experience, which for some kids, can be daunting.
PRASAD Children's Dental Health Program (PRASAD CDHP)
The Foundation donated $2,900 worth of supplies inventory and $2,500 in GKAS Award cash for dental education and flyers. PRASAD CDHP sets a higher standard of oral health and quality to better meet the challenges in the community by delivering dental health education classes and providing a full range of preventive and restorative services, including cleanings, fillings, x-rays, extractions, sealants, cavity prevention and fluoride treatment. Since its inception in 1998, PRASAD CDHP has brought oral health care to children in a rural community. The program is designed to address community barriers to access care such as poor health education, poverty and lack of transportation. A state-of-the-art mobile clinic serves children where they are, at the schools, and ensures that they are able to receive the dental care they need. This strategy has made dental care and health education accessible to thousands of children. Each year PRASAD serves more than 4,000 children. PRASAD CDHP actively collaborates with state and local groups that seek to improve health outcomes including the New York State Oral Health Coalition, the Rural Health Network, school districts and the Sullivan County Oral Health Coalition. Through partnerships with community health organizations and work in the schools, the program is able to educate teachers, students and parents about the importance of good oral health.
Touro College of Dental Medicine
The Foundation awarded Touro College of Dental Medicine (TCDM) a $3,500 “combined” grant to provide materials/supplies needed for both its 2019 Veterans Smile and 2020 pediatric oral health outreaches. TCDM has expanded its Pediatrics Oral Health Education and Outreach Program beyond the clinic, to improve the oral health of its communities and partnered with the Ossining Union Free School District (OUFSD), whose 2017/2018 enrollment statistics label 61% of their 4817 students as economically disadvantaged. Through the partnership with OUFSD, TCDM planned a variety of oral health education events, including Cavity Fighters Club Seminars in OUFSD’s K-5 schools and a First Steps Program aimed at parents and their toddlers.
Each year, Community health centers or service programs are encouraged to submit electronic entries for the GKAS Award to the Foundation, which can be accessed at www.nysdentalfoundation.org or by emailing Laura Clark Leon at email@example.com.