Editor’s note: This guest blog is written by Dr. Reena R. Kumar, a dental surgeon, Dean and Professor at Divya Jyoti College of Dental Sciences & Research in Modinagar, India and Special Olympics Clincial Director.
I write this blog with deep emotions and a strange sense of comfort.
It was in 2012 that I was inducted into Special Olympics as a Clinical Director. It is a moment that I never forget and will cherish forever. Being involved with Special Olympics has been a life changing experience for me and for all my clinical volunteers from my dental school whose lives has been touched by Special Olympics. And yet, after every Special Smiles Screening I always felt things were still inadequate and incomplete. For a dental surgeon such as myself, screening was just the first step! i felt we needed to go beyond examinations to ensuring people with intellectual disability got any treatment that they needed. I felt I could help more.
It was with the initiation of the India Chapter of International Association for Oral Health & Disability, that I felt Special Care Dentistry could reach its fullest sense. I believed this initiative would require a collaborative and collective effort from all the stake holders. Being the Dean of Divya Jyoti College of Dental Sciences & Research, I made it my dream to create SUNEEDHI, Centre of Excellence for Special Needs Dentistry. We at Divya Jyoti believe that we need to acknowledge our own before we embrace the world – Suneedhi is a special child – daughter of our ladies hostel warden. We dedicate this clinic to her . Suneedhi- literally means auspicious!
With efforts from an industry partner, Unicorn Denmart , Divya Jyoti will work in tandem with Special Olympics to identify schools/athletes and individuals and provide oral health care free of charge / non profit basis.
I believe management and intervention of specially /differently abled individuals can only be successful if behavioural management is achieved. The sports arena is a great equalizer and barrier breaker and I applaud the coaches of Special Olympics for helping us create conducive behaviors for efficient delivery of oral and general health therapeutic interventions Divya Jyoti Group of Institutions has a 350 bedded hospital and an upcoming medical school. The faculty and students pledge to provide oral and general health care for the differently abled individuals. I dream of having our 550 dental students enter into the most pleasurable satisfying world of Unified Sports!
I believe we still have miles to go before we sleep, but I feel very content that people with intellectual disability in India will have access to free health care to compliment the examinations.