Blinn College dental hygiene students are setting out to change lives, one smile at a time.
Students and dental professionals will volunteer their time April 10 for the College’s sixth annual Give Kids a Smile program, an initiative of the American Dental Association that provides free dental services to qualifying local children.
Give Kids a Smile offers dental exams, X-rays, dental cleanings, sealants and oral health education and will take place from 5-8 p.m. in the Dental Hygiene Clinic at the College’s Workforce Education Center, located at 301 Post Office St. in Bryan. Parents and guardians can schedule appointments beginning March 31 by calling 979-209-7283. Spanish-speaking personnel will be available to assist with scheduling and will be available the day of the event. Registration is limited.
Last year, more than 65 children participated in the program. Since 2009, an estimated $80,000 in services, equipment and funds have been donated to the initiative.
The Brazos Valley Dental Society has been instrumental in making the event a success, said Dana Wood, dental hygiene instructor. Several local dentists volunteer at the event and offer restorative treatments at no cost to the family if such needs are identified during the Give Kids a Smile event.
“We are so appreciative of how the community comes together to make this happen,” Wood said. “When our students leave here, they can take the experience they gained through Give Kids a Smile and start a similar program in their community. We not only want to give them the tools to become top-notch hygienists, but to touch the lives of people everywhere through service.”
Data from Blinn College’s Give Kids a Smile program was cited as a program to emulate at a recent national health symposium in Washington, D.C.
“We’ve got a lot of support and we’re incredibly thankful for it,” Wood said. “Studies show that if we can improve oral health, we can improve overall heath.”
Give Kids a Smile is part of Blinn’s Service Learning program, which combines community service with classroom instruction or student club activities focusing on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility to engage students. Service Learning involves students in activities that address local needs while developing their academic or professional skills and commitment to their community. At the end of the Fall 2013 semester Blinn students had documented more than 356,000 hours of community service, valued at more than $7.1 million by the Points of Light Foundation.
Blinn has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest accolade an educational institution can receive from the federal government for its commitment to service and civic engagement, five of the last seven years. Blinn’s Division of Health Sciences, based at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, offers associate degree nursing, dental hygiene, emergency medical services, physical therapist assistant, radiologic technology, fire science, therapeutics manufacturing, veterinary technology and vocational nursing programs designed to train students for high-demand professions.