Great Shape! Inc.is approaching its 10-year anniversary of the 1000 Smiles dental project and is celebrating by sending hundreds more volunteers to make a difference in Jamaica this fall. You, too, can celebrate by serving in the world’s largest international humanitarian dental project.
Great Shape! Inc., a nonprofit serving Jamaica since 1988, offers you the opportunity tochange the lives of many living in Jamaica, as well as find new meaning and enjoyment in your own. “Through a heart of service and the will to make a change, our volunteers form friendships with patients, students, and volunteers that are unforgettable,” said Great Shape! Executive Director, Joe Wright.
This year there are eight project weeks for volunteers to travel to Negril, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, or Whitehouse between August and November. There will also be two additional sessions focused solely on sealant work, the final trips of a three-year pilot program working to cut the amount of future cavities on the island in half.
Rural Jamaicans have little access to dental care; there is just one dentist for every 100,000 people. 1000 Smiles provides care that prevents cavities, tooth decay, disease, and in some cases even death. It also provides a better opportunity for employment on an island where tourism is the number one industry. Over 10 years, the project has treated at least 37,000 Jamaican patients with dental care.
Volunteers travel fromall over the world to Jamaica to take action in the Great Shape! vision to serve Jamaicans. Some are dental pros and others simply have a heart to serve, but all are equally important. “I think the hugs, smiles and complete gratitude from the community and fellow volunteers is my favorite part of Great Shape!,” said Andrea Wege, a two-time volunteer. Great Shape! also partners with the Sandals Foundation and the Jamaican Ministry of Health. Sandals Resorts International provides free accommodations and entertainment to all volunteers, and the Ministry of health ensures the safety of the project.
As Great Shape! approaches a decade of 1000 Smiles, they areexcited to send new and returning volunteers to serve thousands more. Volunteers pay a $700 project fee and for their own airfare; accommodations are free at the Sandals Resort. Pros also pay to ship supplies to Miami, and Great Shape! will ship them to Jamaica. A sponsorship program called Sponsor a Smile is also available and could potentially cover the project fee and airfare.