Imagine With Kind

imagine with kind

A Collaborative Conversation For Colorado Kids

Presented by Colorado Access

On May 18th, Kids in Need of Dentistry (KIND) hosted a community discussion on the field of public oral health. This event, Imagine with KIND, presented by Colorado Access, featured a panel of systems change advocates and direct service leaders to discuss the role of an organization, like KIND, in balancing the need for systems change and direct service. We asked them to help us answer:

What is an effective relationship between systems change work and direct service work? Can we do both?

KIND faces the same challenge as many direct service organizations – how to balance powerful systemic work with direct service efforts. Luckily, KIND’s trusted thought partners had some solutions.

Old Problems Require New Solutions

The panelists came from wide ranging backgrounds in public health:

Patty Braun, MD, MPHDenver Health/Rocky Mountain Network of Oral Health Project Director; Active member of American Academy of Pediatrics section on Oral Health
Alyssa Aberle, RDH – Executive Director of Colorado Dental Hygienist Association / RDH, Dental at Your Door; Former school-based oral health program director
Amisha Singh, DDS – DEI Manager, Anschutz School of Dentistry 
Francoise Mbabazi – Founder of MySkin Global nonprofit; DEI Consultant, former Oral Health Colorado employee; Community organizing expert
Molly Markert – Senior Community Engagement Specialist, Colorado Access; Community-driven solutions expert
Theresa “Tracy” Anslemo, RDH – Director of Policy & Advocacy, Delta Dental Foundation of Colorado; Former CDPHE Dental Director; Former Executive Director of dental direct service non-profit

After an insightful conversation, we learned:

  • Systemic change in oral health cannot occur until we dismantle the current system entirely. 

  • Access to oral health resources is tied up in a system that privileges white individuals for every other resource.

Event guest, and Director of Health Equity at Adelante Community Health, Maria Zubia spoke up on this topic "The system isn't broken; it wasn't built for us", (that is, people of color, or born outside of the United States). 

Panelist Dr Amish Singh agreed: “The system is working exactly as it was designed." She went on to point out that the work of dismantling the system requires focusing on “your 20 square feet", that is - the places and spaces of impact you inhabit in your daily life and work. Panelists nodded; the audience clapped.

As a result of this discussion, KIND is even more eager to invest in the work of our KIND Hearts program, a promotora model of delivering oral health knowledge and resources through BIPOC community leaders. 

In fact, we have a bold goal for this work. We are working to create Colorado’s first community-led oral health advocacy group which has an active role in shifting policy. 

We are grateful to our panelists for resolutely agreeing that communities should lead progress toward systems change. We are on our way!

what attendees loved about Imagine with KIND

"Being with wonderful people in person! Talking to one another! Touring the clinic. Learning from the views of the audience members. Feeling the heart in the room! "

"Reconnecting with my comrades in the community, philanthropy and policy."

"Networking and hearing perspectives from so many leaders in the space of oral health equity."

Attendees of the event shared with us that this type of gathering was both healing and sorely needed. KIND is grateful to Colorado Access for making it possible, and to our panelists and guests for showing up and unapologetically sharing their hearts and perspectives. We hope to welcome our community back for more collaborative and meaningful conversations in the future.

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