Monday, I started off the day buying and preparing supplies for our outreach visits for the last two weeks. It’s crazy to think about how quickly these eight weeks have flown by and I’m already on my ninth week! Laura and I set up the clinic for the large goodie bag stuffing event we are having on Tuesday. We’ve invited our outreach volunteers to come help stuff goodie bags we use in our outreach presentations. These bags are such a critical component of the outreach program because it provides information about our clinic services and oral health supplies, including toothbrush, toothpaste, 2 minute brushing timer, and floss. After we finished our set-up prep, I headed out to SON Ministries Summer Lunch Program located at Hilliard Church of Christ. We saw about 30 kids and I was able to give one of our large group presentations to the kids. After the presentation, we had our traditional games and activities stations set up for the kids. I finished up the day working on some projects back at the clinic.
Tuesday was the big day where we had our Good Bag Stuffing Event! We spent the morning with the final parts of setting up for the event and ordering lunch for our volunteers. The event went extremely well. We stuffed almost 1,000 bags in about an hour! We had a strong showing from our KidSMILES volunteers, including some volunteers that have not had the chance to help out before.
In the evening, I had an extremely productive, two hour meeting with Cynthia Hendricks, the President of the Central Ohio Association of School Nurses (COASN). We discussed promoting KidSMILES materials and services to members of the COASN and working with school nurses around central Ohio, especially school nurses at Columbus City Schools, to schedule our oral health education outreach visits. One of the most important takeaways from this meeting was I learned how frequently school nurses see the consequences of lack of access to oral health care in schools. I also learned about the licensure and training process to become a school nurse, as well as that school nurses are trained to perform basic oral health screenings and refer children to dentists.
On Wednesday, we had an informative Learning Session by Annie Gallagher, President/Owner at Gallaghar Consulting Group, Inc. which specializes in helping organizations with branding, strategic planning, executive coaching, market research, and more. Our session focused on personal branding and communicating our story. We had engaging and light-hearted discussions about ourselves, and I will definitely be applying much of the advice that we got. I headed back to the clinic and prepped for our two outreach visits on Thursday!
Thursday was my busiest outreach day with two outreach visits! Our first visit was in to WARM Summer Lunch Program at Abby Lane Apartments off of Morse Road. We saw over 120 kids at this event – it was great to see how much energy they had! We set up our games and activities stations and kids were at our table the whole time! Later in the evening, I visited Ohio State Star House with one of our dental hygienist volunteers, Jenni Ernst, for our second outreach visit of the summer to this site. We visited OSU Star House back in Week 2 of my fellowship. As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, OSU Star House is an amazing organization that provides food, a place to drop-in, and other resources for homeless youth in central Ohio. For this visit, we got the chance to talk to all new youth. Just like my first visit, I was really impressed and happy of how such a great resource Star House is for these youth. However, it’s really sad that this center is one of the few resources these youth have.
I had already finished 40 hours for this week by the end of Thursday! It was a really busy and productive week. I did some extra work on Friday and bought some supplies for the clinic, organized our outreach materials, and worked on my other projects! I’m definitely going to remain involved with KidSMILES however I can after my fellowship ends. Based on my interests in dental public health, non-profits, access to health care, and dentistry, continuing to help is a perfect fit for me. I am planning on volunteering as much as I can with outreach visits. I also plan to continue some of the projects I started, such as working with expanding our outreach program to more schools and locations.