Building student involvement, fostering civic engagement and enhancing community service to advance public health. 

On 06/04/16, 28 students from all classes at TUSDM volunteered with Tufts AADMD (American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry) at the Massachusetts Special Olympics Special Smiles hosted in Boston! This event was a wonderful opportunity for Tufts dental students to get out in the community and do some great work for the Special Olympics athletes. Swimmers fresh from the pool in their swim suits, runners with track medals hanging from their necks, and athletes excited from cheering on their friends stopped by the Special Smiles tent and visited multiple stations where students participated in a variety of roles including molding mouth guards, providing fluoride varnish, and performing dental screenings and providing proper oral hygiene instruction. Some were first-time athletes, many participated in multiple sporting events, and one pair of sisters have been coming to Special Smiles since it was founded in 1993! This was Tufts AADMD’s first year at Special Smiles but certainly not the last. Be sure to join us next year!

See more pictures of our volunteers in action here and here, and read on to see what some of the volunteers have to say about their Special Smiles experiences:

“It was a rewarding experience for me. Their excitement to get an oral screening was certainly heartwarming. To be able to check their dental condition, hear their concerns and encourage them to keep following the proper oral hygiene instructions was indeed an incredible experience.  The satisfaction that I got in helping them out was immense and beyond words.” – Neeta Awasthi (IS17)

“Volunteering at the Special Olympics Special Smiles Event was such an incredible experience. A variety of roles were assigned to each of the volunteers, such as registration, molding mouth guards, performing dental screenings and providing fluoride varnish for the athletes. I personally soaked up every minute of it.  Seeing the attitudes and positive energy portrayed from all volunteers and the athletes contributed to what makes this event so special and successful. I really enjoyed communicating with the genuine people from my school volunteering out of pure kindness. Having the opportunity to just have a quick conversation with each of the athletes and seeing how happy they were to be able to do what they love, was unbelievably inspiring.  Some of the athletes were a little nervous about receiving the fluoride varnish, but being able to help them overcome that and them leaving with a smile on their face makes it all worthwhile. People should volunteer with the Special Olympics because it honestly does not feel like work. It is a privilege to work with the athletes and both parties benefit from the experience in a variety of ways. I look forward to going back next year!” – Gabrielle Lieberman (D19)

“Volunteering at the “Special Olympics: Special Smiles” initiative was an enriching experience. Alongside other dental students we were able to help with flouride varnishes, oral examinations, and registration. Being able to connect and interact with athletes with Special Needs was helpful in building interpersonal skills. Witnessing the athletes’ faces light up with the gold/silver/bronze metals around their neck was radiating to the soul. Interacting with the community and serving alongside dental classmates created team-bonding and inclusiveness that we can continue to build upon.” – Gary Kersey, Jr. (D20, SNDA Community Service Liaison)