Public Smile Announcement

February 8, 2019 | Smile Train

High school sophomore Anna Johns was recently tasked with creating a PSA targeted to teenagers for her final health class project. Knowing that she’d spend significant time on this project, Anna wanted to lend support to an organization with a long-term solution to a problem. After careful consideration she decided that cleft surgery had a lifetime impact and would be what she’d focus on for her PSA. 

Anna Johns

At the time, Anna didn’t know much about cleft lip and palate, so she searched the internet for organizations supporting cleft treatment. She narrowed her choices to three finalists and made her decision. She said, “I was swayed by Smile Train’s ‘teach a man to fish’ model using local cleft surgeons. Having doctors who can effectively communicate with their patients and who will be around for further treatment felt much more sustainable and effective than sending over American doctors for a few days.”

Anna learned that most of her friends were working on projects with local organizations, and she worried that focusing on children halfway around the world might not be as relatable as her classmates’ projects. However, as Anna read more on Smile Train’s website, she felt connected to the patients, some of whom were her own age. “When I read their stories and see their pictures, it feels as if they could be sitting right next to me — I felt an overwhelming urgency to help and I hoped I could convey this to my classmates in my video,” she said.

As Anna continued learning more about clefts and the impact of cleft surgery, she was pleased to learn of the continuing positive effects of cleft surgery. “A $250 cleft surgery will allow a child to contribute to society and brings an average of $50,000 back to their community — what a worthwhile investment,” she said.

After hours of work researching clefts, sourcing images, and editing her video, Anna was ready and shared her PSA with her classmates.

Many in her class seemed surprised. Some hadn’t known about cleft lip and palate at all, and others were unaware of the serious health issues children living with untreated clefts often have.

As proof that she’d done a great job on her PSA, several people were persuaded to donate to her Smile Train fundraising page. “We raised enough that at least one child had the opportunity to achieve their dreams,” she said.

Anna reports that her PSA and fundraising success has her excited for future community outreach and volunteering. “When you read the news or watch TV and learn about the increasing number of injustices in the world and the many problems that people face, it can feel overwhelming. You can feel that nothing you can do can make a difference, but we can’t ignore them. Like Smile Train says, we can change the world one smile at a time.”

Visit the Students page of our site to learn more about how your school can help create smiles.

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