Since 2013 the faculty and students of the Dental Hygiene Department at Hudson Valley Community College have volunteered with New York State’s Special Olympics for their “Healthy Athletes” Program. “The Healthy Athletes program is dedicated to providing health services and education to Special Olympics athletes, and changing the way health systems interact with people with intellectual disabilities.” Over the past three years, faculty and students have helped to screen more than 1,000 athletes. This past year in Newburgh New York, athletes’ received interprofessional care with dental screenings, eye exams and blood pressure readings.
Our volunteers have traveled to north to Clifton Park and Queensbury as well as south to Newburgh to assist with this terrific program. Faculty and students both assisted in providing dental screenings that provided information as to the athletes oral care habits, missing or broken teeth as well as the potential need for athletic mouth guards for the athletes’ specific sport. These screenings were discussed with the athletes care givers and any recommendations were passed on to both the care giver as well as the Special Olympics Director to allow for follow up on any athletes that presented with a need for treatment. Students also manned the registration desk and assisted the athletes with their forms and paper work as well as providing oral self-care instructions on how to properly brush, floss and rinse their teeth daily.
This partnership allows Hudson Valley Community College Dental Hygiene the chance to give back within their community to help those people who otherwise may not be in a position to seek services. Access to Dental Care is a major topic within New York State, and every opportunity that our faculty and staff can help out, you will find us there.
Taras Kufel is the Manager of Digital Engagement at the State University of New York.