Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dental hygiene students help colleague’s sister … and 110 others

The School of Dentistry’s student dental hygiene community is sharing its time, treasures, and talents with a community agency in need. All 87 students recently participated in the annual Winter Kick-Off, but the January event was especially meaningful for senior Amy Parks.

Amy Parks inspired 87 of her fellow dental hygiene students to make gift bags for patients at a rehabilitation center after her sister suffered brain and spinal cord injuries in an automobile accident. (Photo by Anne Gwozdek)

Parks is vice president of the local chapter of the Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association (SADHA). Her sister, Patty, suffered brain and spinal cord injuries in an automobile accident one year ago. Patty’s recovery has been slow, but remarkable. Recently, she left St. Joseph Mercy Hospital for the Rainbow Rehabilitation Treatment Center in Ypsilanti.

“With all of the physical, mental, and emotional support the Rainbow Rehabilitation clients need, oral health is often not in the picture,” Amy said. So she has taken it upon herself to make sure her sister receives daily oral health care with hopes that Patty will again be able to do so independently.

However, Amy is taking her initiative one step further. She wants others at Rainbow Rehabilitation to have the same opportunity her sister has had.

“Education and proper oral health care that allow caregivers to assist those with special needs, such as brushing a person’s teeth, is greatly needed,” Amy said. “SADHA had successful fundraising efforts last fall, so we were excited about the opportunity to provide supplies to residents of the Rainbow Rehabilitation Center.”

SADHA also received a contribution from Hu-Friedy, a dental instrument manufacturing company, which allowed the group to purchase power toothbrushes for 70 Rainbow Rehabilitation residents. Premier Dental supplied tote bags and toothpaste.

SADHA’s Kick-Off event, which marks the beginning of a new semester, is a time when all three dental hygiene classes come together to focus on a special activity and connect with each other.

“We are all one community,” said Lindsey Bolduc, SADHA president. “However, because of our schedules, we often are isolated from those in other classes. The Kick-Off gives us the opportunity to connect with each other and experience some of the benefits our professional association, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, will offer upon graduation.”

In January, all dental hygiene students worked in teams, creatively decorating individual oral health care tote bags for the 70 residents at Rainbow Rehabilitation. In the bags were letters to residents, power toothbrushes, toothpaste, and oral health information. Forty caregivers also received smaller bags with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and information about how to provide daily oral health care to their special-needs patients. Students delivered the 110 bags during a monthly event at the center on Feb. 15.

“The bags are awesome and the students did a great job making all of these gifts special for everyone at Rainbow Rehabilitation,” Amy Parks said with a big grin. “All of us can’t wait to deliver these personally and assist in providing oral health education. Most of all, my sister will be thrilled to know that this will be a gift all of her friends will be receiving.”