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Center for Health Literacy Students: Schools for Smiles

We are Schools for Smiles, a University of Maryland student organization spreading oral hygiene awareness, one child at a time. On top of being a SGA-recognized student organization, Schools for Smiles is also the recepient of the 2017 University of Maryland School of Public Policy's Do Good Institute's Mini-Grant. The group was started by four enthusiastic UMD Behavioral and Community Health (BCH) and Public Health Science students in Spring 2015. Dr. Dushanka Kleinman and Dr. Sylvette La Touche-Howard serve as our faculty advisors.

What is our purpose?

The mission of Schools for Smiles is to provide free, sponsored, regular oral hygiene lessons in elementary schools to promote oral health. 

What are our goals?

  • Decrease incidence and prevalence of oral diseases prevalent among low-income children and families
  • Promote oral health in kids with free oral hygiene supplies
  • Engage in health oral health habits at school, with a special focus on preventing tooth decay and gum disease
  • Create community partnerships between oral health professionals, companies, parents, and elementary schools.

What do we do at schools?

We are currently not partnered with any schools due to COVID-19. However, we currently hold panels and speaking events to discuss the importance of oral health from a public health perspective. Additionally, we hold and participate in events such as Maryland Day to:

  • Dispense oral health supplies
  • Give lessons and offer interactive activities on healthy oral health habits
  • Discuss the importance of fluoride
  • Provide print materials in both English and Spanish for Spanish-speaking families

In the past, we partnered with Edward Felegy Elementary School in Prince George’s County, MD, working with over 300 preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders.

Who are we currently partnered with?

We've expanded to collaborate with professors and dental students at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) such as:

  • UMSOD Pediatric Club for Maryland Day
  • Dr. Darien Weatherspoon, DDS, MPH

What are we planning for the future?

  • Repartner with elementary schools to teach children about oral health
  • Expand our outreach to parents and children by holding events and creating promotional materials

Why should you get involved with Schools for Smiles?

As a volunteer, you get:

  • A rewarding experience working with enthusiastic children on improving their oral health
  • A chance to make a difference in a child’s daily routine and life 
  • A glimpse of professional life (for pre-dental and pre-health students) 

How do I get involved?

For students who are interested in joining or learning more about Schools for Smiles, contact us at

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