When I was a kid, the girls in the neighborhood would hang out in our friend’s backyard, acting out scenes from the Broadway show, Annie. To this day over 30 years later, I can still hear my friend Stacey singing the words, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”
A smile is a very powerful thing. During stressful situations, smiling can actually improve our mood. Quite literally, turning that frown upside down can be enough to lighten the mood. Merely seeing a smile on someone else has the power to activate the muscles in our face that make us smile.
Think about a smile. What comes to mind? It is believed that there are some 50 different types of smiles. Believe it or not, people can actually identify the type of smile we have on our faces based on the sound of our voice.
And for those of us over a certain age, smiling can actually make us look younger. Scientists have proven that adults over the age of 40 look younger when they smile. Like I said, a smile is a very powerful thing.
But what if we could not, or would not, smile at all?
One of my closest friends during childhood had a cousin who was born with a cleft lip and palate. I remember her by his bedside as he went through several surgeries. What an incredibly happy boy he was then, even without the ability to smile.
Millions of children both here and in developing countries are born with a cleft, leaving them with difficulty eating, breathing, speaking and smiling. It likely comes as no surprise that these children are often also bullied and ostracized.
These children with unrepaired clefts may live in shame, but more importantly, they often have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking. Yet cleft repair surgery is actually simple, and the transformation is immediate. Though cleft repair can cost as little as $250, many families simply cannot afford it.
Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to the solvable problem of cleft lip and palate. The organization provides training and funding to empower local doctors in 85+ developing countries so that they can provide free cleft repair surgery in their communities. Smile Train has a network of 2,100+ partner surgeons around the world. These doctors perform surgeries and go on to train other doctors creating a long-term, sustainable system.
To date, Smile Train has transformed the lives of more than one million children by giving them the power of a smile — that’s roughly 340 surgeries a day and 127,000 every year. While they have helped more than one million children so far, there are still millions of children living with unrepaired clefts who long for the ability to smile too.
Smile Train surgery can take as little as 45 minutes and can cost as little as $250. Instead of that next birthday party, big family celebration, or shopping trip, you could change a child’s life forever. For more information and to learn how you can help, please visit SmileTrain.org.
A smile is a powerful thing. It can brighten a mood or an entire day. A smile shows happiness. It is infectious. The power of a smile gives a child a while new life. Join us and change the world one smile at a time. Because you are never fully dressed without one.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Smile Train. The opinions and text are all mine. Smile Train has a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Smile Train’s model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in developing countries provide 100%- free cleft repair surgery in their communities. Join us and change the world with the power of a smile.