By MARCENE ROBINSON
Published January 30, 2023
Award-winning fashion photographer Rick Guidotti recently visited the School of Dental Medicine to promote the use of more inclusive imagery in medical education and to celebrate the beauty of human diversity.
The two-day visit culminated in an event at a University Pediatric Dentistry clinic during which Guidotti gifted professional photography to dozens of children and youth with disabilities in Western New York.
Guidotti — whose clients have included Yves St Laurent, Revlon and L’Oreal — is the founder of POSITIVE EXPOSURE, a nonprofit dedicated to building a more inclusive world through photography, film, exhibitions, lectures and educational programs. The charitable program has partnered with hospitals, medical schools and educational institutions around the world to reframe patient depictions in medical education through its initiative FRAME, a web-based educational library and resource.
FRAME was the subject of Guidotti’s guest lecture to a class of UB dental students on Jan. 20, as well as his meetings with UB health sciences faculty, staff and students throughout the day.
The initiative provides teaching videos that depart from the “patient-as-a-specimen” model and use a human-centered approach in which people introduce themselves and discuss their genetic, physical, intellectual or behavioral conditions. The films allow health care professionals to learn about a condition from a real, dynamic person, bringing a new perspective to medical education.
Guidotti’s work is featured in HELEN, the journal of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry, as an effective teaching tool in medical education, says Meelin D. Chin Kit-Wells, clinical assistant professor of pediatric and community dentistry in the School of Dental Medicine.
The second day of his visit, Guidotti travelled to the University Pediatric Dentistry clinic at 1091 Main St. in Buffalo to gift professional photography to dozens of children and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The event was also attended by Lockport native Joshua Vacanti, a finalist on season 21 of NBC’s “The Voice.” Vacanti performed several songs for families with his wife, Sam Olewnik. While guests waited to take their photos, they enjoyed arts, crafts and educational activities.
“Rick Guidotti brings to Buffalo the opportunity to showcase how much we care for inclusivity within our own community,” says Chin Kit-Wells, who serves as a POSITIVE EXPOSURE board member and American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry president-elect. “With his visit, we can teach inclusivity by action. With grace, we can celebrate each person for who they are.”
The School of Dental Medicine provides holistic oral health care to patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities in supportive, caring and respectful environments. In addition to hosting comprehensive outreach programs, such as the annual Give Kids A Smile Day, the Department of Pediatric and Community Dentistry is optimizing care for patients with disabilities by collaborating with occupational therapists to house the professions under one roof.
The school is investing $1 million in a new space devoted to patients with disabilities in its Squire Hall dental clinic on the South Campus. The clinic will feature specialty equipment for patients in wheelchairs, with autism or who are medically complex, as well as tilt platforms, bariatric chairs, oversized doors and seating for caregivers.
The school has also entered into a partnership with Arc GLOW to provide dental care to patients with disabilities in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties through its S-Miles To Go program, which operates through two state-of-the-art mobile dental vans.