Newman University students and alumni volunteered to help uninsured children receive free dental care at “Give Kids a Smile Day,” a cooperative effort between the Wichita-Sedgwick County Oral Health Coalition and the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita.
The March 8 event took place at the Grace Med Clinic, and helped 120 uninsured Sedgwick County children between the ages of 3 and 12 receive free exams, teeth cleaning, fluoride varnish, sealants, fillings, tooth removal and other recommended dental procedures.
Newman University students with Spanish-speaking abilities were asked by the KU School of Medicine-Wichita to participate in the event. Nine Newman students and two alumni agreed to work as interpreters to facilitate communication among parents, children and clinic workers. Many of the Newman students are members of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO).
The Newman volunteers helped families to check in, assist completion of a survey and check out. Volunteers also entertained or distracted children while the parent accompanied another child needing treatment.
“I was so impressed with our students. They were terrific workers and most of them were there for the whole day, from 6:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.,” said Newman Assistant Professor of Spanish Sonja Bontrager, who coordinated the Newman volunteers. “I was so happy to be associated with such a committed team of young people and think that they represented Newman beautifully. Many are only first-year students and this is great for future projects.”
“I want to offer a tremendous ‘thank you’ to all our community volunteers and those who helped behind the scenes getting ready for the event,” added Judy Johnston, research instructor in the Preventive Medicine and Public Health office at the KU School of Medicine-Wichita.
To prepare for the event, Newman volunteers took part in Human Subjects certification training, which allows them to be part of the data collection process for the research portion of the project. Johnston said she believed that the exposure to the training and actual community research would be valuable to the volunteers.
“I think this was a great volunteering opportunity, especially because we got to use our bilingual talent to help those that do not speak the English language,” said Newman HALO member and volunteer student Rubi Torres. “It was so rewarding and brought happiness to work with the children.”
“Giving service to others unites you more as a community,” added student volunteer and secretary of HALO Ileana Cepeda. “It was definitely a long day but no one seemed to complain because we were all giving the kids a smile.”
The KU School of Medicine-Wichita has collaborated with the Wichita-Sedgwick County Oral Health Coalition to produce the annual event since 2008. The event has treated between 150 and 250 children each year. Of the 120 children treated this year, 94 received both restorative treatment and preventative care, and the other 26 received only preventative services.
Newman students, alumni and faculty who volunteered for the event are:
Current Newman University students:
Newman University Alumni and Faculty:
Sonja Bontrager, Assistant Professor of Spanish
For more information on Give Kids a Smile Day, visit the Wichita-Sedgwick County Oral Health Coalition web site.