Sometimes I have an opportunity to watch something really amazing.
I saw over one hundred volunteers work together to Give Kids A Smile…
107 kids to be exact.
Hundreds of hours were put in before the day even began. Scheduling the facility, generous donations, organizing & planning for mobile X-ray equipment, dental instruments, dentists, dental professionals, volunteers to escort the children – I could go on.
I had the opportunity to document the day. What I saw was incredible.
As a photographer, every place I looked was a photo opportunity – honestly, the lighting inside a gymnasium isn’t the best for photographs…but what I did see was a lot of kindness, a little nervousness and some fairly big smiles. As a mother, I saw kids getting a better chance. Some children had never seen a dentist for one reason or another. Some were here from countries where an annual visit to a dentist isn’t heard of. Some were local with out the privilege of dental insurance. The chance to be pulled up thru the cracks in society where a smile can be so valuable.
With a friendly face at check-in, a volunteer escorted each child to the mobile x-ray station where dental professionals waited to triage each patient based on the initial exam. Next stop: the tooth brushing arena. Education and hands-on brushing with some laughter on the side. The kids had to walk past the party area – a treat when their dental work is complete. A local entertainer showed off his juggling skills, a librarian read stories to younger children, and Miss Wisconsin & Miss Wisconsin Teen arrived & anxiety went away!
Dentists, hygienists, a variety of health professionals & administrators worked magic (and dental procedures, of course) on over one hundred kids that day. It was hard to capture with my camera what I felt in my heart. A kid knows when his or her smile doesn’t look or smell good. They know when there’s pain and might be afraid to tell someone. I saw hesitation then courage when getting into the chair and I also saw kindness and human kindness – a gloved hand reaching out to a clenched fist and holding the hand, I saw a gentle pat on a shoulder, ‘you’re doing great’.
Incredibly heart-warming when a kid was finished and flashed a genuine smile (sometimes still numb) feeling good about themselves.