CHICAGO, Illinois—Oral Health America organized a Share and Learn conference for Smiles Across America partners July 23-24, 2013, in St. Paul, Minn.
The conference gave 15 organizations from across the country the opportunity to network and learn from each other to improve access to care in their communities. SAA and its partners reach more than 400,000 children annually by supporting programs that provide oral disease prevention and education services in school-based and school-linked settings. The conference commenced with a welcome from Patterson Dental President Paul Guggenheim at Patterson’s St. Paul office. “We are excited to have everybody here this afternoon,” he said. “You picked a great time of year to visit Minnesota! We are extremely proud to support Smiles Across America and the amazing work you are doing in communities across the nation. Your dedication and energy are inspiring and we look forward to following your continued success. Keep up the great work!” Representatives from each program were asked to present their respective program model. This allowed for discussion on best practices and building program capacity. “It's been so inspirational to see presentations by all of the organizations that are out there making a difference,” said Dennis Young, president and CEO, the Children’s Dental Center of Greater Los Angeles. “Sometimes you feel like you’re working in isolation when in reality so much is going on in communities across the nation. I'm thrilled I had the opportunity to learn from all of you these past two days. Thank you OHA.” Following the presentations, the group traveled to Children’s Dental Services, an SAA partner, to tour the dental clinic and learn how CDS provides prevention and education throughout the entire state of Minnesota. “We are delighted to be your official host of the 2013 Share and Learn conference,” said Jeff Bartleson, senior manager, Children’s Dental Services. “I’m proud of the work we do here at CDS and it’s exciting to have so many experts at our clinic to offer insight on how to continue to improve access to care.” The evening concluded rolling egg rolls and spring rolls, grilling pork and fruit, and chopping vegetables for turkey lettuce wraps at Cooks of Crocus Hill, a renowned cooking school in the twin cities were OHA Board Member Kathy Zwieg is an instructor. Day 2 kicked off at the 3M Innovation Center where partners participated in “speed networking” on issues related to advocacy, grants, data collection and partnerships. Speaker Diana Wavra addressed the group on motivational interviewing and Ann Lynch, director of government affairs for the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, and former state senator, talked with the group about strategies for grass roots advocacy efforts in their communities. "We are thankful to our Share and Learn sponsors for giving OHA the opportunity to fulfill our mission by bringing our Smiles Across America communities together," said OHA President and CEO Beth Truett. "Our partners tell us on a consistent basis how much they value being able to interact with each other and how the insight they gain helps them improve their own programs and reach more children with needed oral health care. We look forward to organizing more Share and Learn conferences in the near future."