Dentistry students help low income children learn dental hygiene
Published: Monday, August 20, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012 01:08
Thanks to students and faculty from the West Virginia University School of Dentistry, some rural West Virginia children will have healthy, lifelong smiles.
Camp Horseshoe’s Youth Opportunity Camp helps low-income children ages 7-12 build social skills, gain confidence and learn healthy lifestyles.
Inspired by the program, sophomore dentistry student Sawan Prabhu started Project Lucky Smile, which worked with Camp Horseshoe to educate children about dental hygiene and good nutrition.
"I always loved doing community outreach, and this camp is the perfect place," she said.
Prabhu had volunteered at the camp since high school, and saw an opportunity to spread knowledge about dental hygiene.
"All the kids that come to this camp are low-income students from all over the state," she said. "This is a good program to target of-age students."
With the aid of professors and the dentistry class of 2015, Project Lucky Smile visited Camp Horseshoe several times throughout the month. During presentations, students taught children about flossing techniques, oral diseases and
foods that can damage teeth.
Project Lucky Smile also provided more than 300 free dental kits to students, which included floss and toothbrushes.
"We tried to get things that the students would like or that they may not have had at home," Prabhu said.
Prabhu received a $500 scholarship from the WVU Student Government Association Grant through the WVU American Student Dental Association to fund the project. Before she could begin, however, she had to organize the program.
Luckily, Prabhu’s contact with Camp Horseshoe made the process easier.
"I approached them with the idea, and they loved it," she said. "They were very willing to let me come in and teach."
With the aid of 14 other students, Project Lucky Smile was a success, according to Prabhu.
"I was really surprised at how much the students knew and how quickly they learned," she said.
David Cooper, YMCA Camp Horseshoe Director, was appreciative of Prabhu’s efforts.
"This is a very beneficial program for these campers – not only did they learn a lot of useful information, but they also had a great time interacting with the WVU interns," he said. "We’re very thankful for this partnership with the university."
Prabhu hopes someone will continue Project Lucky Strike into the future.
"I really want people to know more about this camp," she said. "I really hope that someone will be able to step up and keep it going.
"These students are the perfect age for this sort of thing, and they may not get this education from their own hometowns."
To learn more about the WVU School of Dentistry, visit http://dentistry.hsc.wvu.edu.