LLU students make a difference
This little boy demonstrates his knowledge of tooth brushing techniques, as he practices on an alligator puppet during his school field trip.
This past winter quarter, Rebecca Kiani, a graduate student at Loma Linda University School of Public Health, has been volunteering her time to make a difference in her community. She has been volunteering as a dental health educator at Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County, which is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the oral health of children in Orange County through collaborations directed at prevention, education, treatment, and advocacy.
Ms. Kiani has spent most of her time in the Tooth Fairy Learning Center at Healthy Smiles, where young children receive basic oral health education before receiving dental treatment at the Smile Center clinic. The Tooth Fairy Learning Center provides preventive education for both parents and their children, and it has various stations set up to help highlight basics of oral health care. Parents may find themselves in the kitchen where they can receive nutrition education to help make healthier food choices for their children, and children can enjoy the oral hygiene station where they learn how to properly brush and floss their teeth.
Healthy Smiles also opens up the Tooth Fairy Learning Center for fiel
Kevin Hszieh, DDS, currently serves as the dental director for Healthy Smiles’ Smile Center clinic, and he is also a graduate of Loma Linda University School of Dentistry.
d trips when local schools in Orange County want to educate their students on the importance of caring for their smile.
The knowledge and skills gained from her studies as a master’s of public health student with an emphasis in health education allowed Ms. Kiani the opportunity to become involved with Healthy Smile’s Give Kids a Smile Day. Volunteers were able to accompany Healthy Smiles staff to local elementary schools in underserved areas, where most parents lack the available resources to care for their children’s teeth. Children received free dental screenings, oral health education in the form of a fun puppet show, and also parents received oral health education and referral information for low-cost providers in the area.
Under the supervision of Patti Herring, PhD, associate professor in the department of health promotion and education in LLU School of Public Health, students like Ms. Kiani have had the opportunity to better serve their communities. Dr. Herring’s students have spent all school year conducting needs assessments and developing health education programs that will be implemented in spring 2008.
Ms. Kiani, along with her classmates Aelyn Chimal and Christine Binus, has been working with a HeadStart preschool in Bloomington to provide oral health education for preschoolers and parents living well below the federal poverty level.
Other health education programs developed by Dr. Herring’s students for underserved communities in San Bernardino County cover topics like water safety and violence reduction. By encouraging students to engage in service activities in the local community, Dr. Herring has shown students how their knowledge from the classroom can have real-life implications and transform the lives of those who would otherwise lack the resources.
For more information on how to get involved in the local community, contact CAPS (Community-Academic Partners in Service) at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or (909) 651-5011.
This photo was taken on Give Kids a Smile Day 2008. Pictured (from left) are: Rebecca Kiani, Ambrocia Lopez, and Dr. Gilberto Garcia.
Pictured above are first-grade students at Pyles Elementary School enjoying the puppet show. The students are raising their hands because they have just been asked how many of them brush their teeth twice a day.