Spring 2006 Table of Contents
Celebrating Our Community
Student Volunteers Get Creative

Designing and implementing a meaningful community service program requires creativity and persistence. Below are two examples of innovative community service student activities that show NYUCD volunteerism at work.

Operation Dental Success
How do you inspire eighth graders to consider a career in dentistry? One way is to present it in a context that youngsters can relate to. Last fall, NYUCD Community Service Committee volunteers began a presentation at Manhattan's Salk School of Science by showing photos of rap music stars flaunting one of today's hottest youth status symbols: a mouthful of silver and gold teeth. Having captured the youngsters' attention, the NYUCD students went on to present more mainstream aspects of dentistry: they discussed prevention to help teeth last a lifetime; addressed the links among smoking, drug use, and oral health problems; and demonstrated how to take tooth impressions.

Their Salk School visit marked the kickoff of Operation Dental Success, a program designed by NYU dental students to encourage underrepresented New York City public school children to pursue dentistry as a career. The program was organized by Marcus Johnson, '08, co-founder of the Student Community Service Committee, and Michael Villacarlos, '07, Chair of the American Student Dental Association's (ASDA's) NYUCD Outreach Committee. "It's never too early to start talking to young people about their professional future," says Marcus, who in 2004 won a Dr. Gerald W. Deas Scholarship, which provides support for underrepresented young people to pursue dental studies at NYU. He and Michael are working with ASDA and the American Medical Student Association Foundation to expand the program to other area schools.

Build a Bear, Make Kids Smile
Awakening to a major blizzard last February, Michael Villacarlos feared he'd have to cancel that morning's teddy bear-stuffing party for children from the Ronald McDonald House - a home away from home on Manhattan's Upper East Side for families of seriously ill children being treated at nearby hospitals. The party was scheduled for a Midtown Build-a-BearĘ store, where NYUCD student volunteers planned to demonstrate oral hygiene using oversized toothbrushes on the stuffed animals - a program that Michael had conceived and funded with $1,500 in donations from fellow students. But early that morning, Ronald McDonald House management called to say that, because of the weather, none of the 50 children would be able to travel to the event. Undaunted, Michael assembled 17 student volunteers at the store, and in less than two hours, they stuffed 50 bears and delivered them to Ronald McDonald House, along with oral health literature and oral hygiene supplies.