Carol Yakiwchuk has a strong sense of community and social responsibility that she infuses into her daily work.
Carol began her dental hygiene education at the University of Manitoba’s School of Dental Hygiene and loved every minute of her time there. “What really appealed to me was the ability to make a difference in the community, and especially with under-served populations. The University of Manitoba’s dental hygiene curriculum places a strong emphasis on community health and I have to say that I had wonderful mentors and educators who believed in and supported me during my education.”
Over the years, Carol has had the opportunity to practice many facets of dental hygiene; as an educator, researcher, clinician in private practice and with special needs populations, project manager and research assistant for a provincial health promotion program on Early Childhood Caries prevention, and also as the Manager of the Health Promotion Unit of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Community Oral Health (CCOH) which is the Faculty of Dentistry’s non-profit department focused on under-served populations. For nearly nine years during her work with the CCOH, Carol provided dental hygiene services and collaboratively developed and delivered oral health programs to individuals and communities throughout Manitoba. “During this time I saw the need, as well as the barriers and challenges for individuals living in the community with intellectual challenges. I knew I wanted to help and make some sort of difference for them.”
Several years ago, while presenting at the Special Care Association annual conference on the topic of effective oral health promotion strategies in long term care, Carol and her colleagues had the pleasure of meeting many like-minded professionals, including Dr. Steven Perlman, the founder of the Special Olympics “Special Smiles” healthy athletes program. “One day Dr. Perlman phoned me and offered me a chance to get involved by training me as the Clinical Director for the Special Smiles Program at the World Winter Games held in February 2009 in Boise, Idaho. This was my first introduction to the Special Olympics (SO) organization and I was so inspired and amazed. I had a real feeling of pride in the athletes and genuine amazement for their accomplishments.”