Far from a
lazy midsummer morning, the Birmingham, AL, WorkPlay soundstage was bustling
with volunteers, sponsors and program staff who came together on July 10 for
the city’s first TeamSmile
of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry (UAB SOD) teamed up
with current and former UAB football players and other partners for a program
that capitalizes on the excitement and allure of high-profile sports to provide
a life-changing dental experience to children in need.
“It is rewarding for our
faculty and students to be able to share their expertise in partnership with
likeminded organizations and it’s a fantastic experience for our D4 students on
their second day of class,” says Michelle Robinson, D.M.D., M.A., UAB SOD
Interim Dean. “This is one of the many community outreach activities we take on
each year and it is especially meaningful to serve at-risk children, like those
of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.”
The youth who
participate are at high risk for dental disease, yet they have limited access
to care. So when offered a day of free dentistry, the Boys & Girls Clubs
organization embraced the opportunity for their kids to participate. Yet,
their resources are so compromised that at the 11th hour, one more hurdle to
their participation arose.
“The dental chairs were all
set for the first patients to arrive,” explains Conan Davis, D.M.D., M.P.H.,
Assistant Dean for Community Collaborations and Public Health. “As more than 90 faculty, fourth-year dental students and
community volunteers gathered for a busy day of service, we learned the
[children] might not make it after all.” As it turns out, someone had shot out
the windows of the Boys & Girls Clubs bus the night before they were to
transport the children for care.
“That did not stop the team.
Everyone sprang into action and redirected efforts,” Dr. Davis remarks.
The athletes quickly helped pull in youth from other neighborhood programs
while the dentistry team led the new participants in oral health education and
activities. Meanwhile, TeamSmile organizers worked with Boys & Girls Clubs
personnel to arrange alternate transportation. Although late, many of the
original children made it for treatment after all—with a little help from a
“Everyone pulled together to
do a great thing,” says Dr. Robinson. “It was an enjoyable day collaborating
with TeamSmile, the Boys & Girls Clubs and so many others to overcome
obstacles and make the event a huge success.”
nearly 100 needy children learned the value of a lifelong commitment to dental
health. That goes to show that the old adage “when life gives
you lemons, make lemonade” still holds true—especially on an eventful summer
day in Birmingham.
by Lynne Jarreau, Director of Communications, UAB School of Dentistry
on August 8, 2018