Late last year, members of the Eco Committee at London’s Avenue House School were brainstorming ideas on how to support a charity for the upcoming term when a student raised his hand. The student explained that his brother received free cleft surgery through the NHS, while children born with the same condition in the developing world oftentimes have to wait years for cleft surgery, if they ever receive surgery at all, because their families are unable to afford treatment. The committee agreed that the school would support Smile Train the following term with the goal of raising £150 — enough that could provide a cleft surgery for a child in need.
With a cause and a fundraising goal in hand, the committee’s next task was to decide how they would raise the funds. The group cleverly came up with the idea that students would sell jokes and Smile Train wristbands for £1 apiece — a campaign they named Connect the World with a Smile. Smile Train Community and Events Manager Jonathan Roberts commented, “It is such a wonderful idea to raise funds for a child in need of proper treatment for their smile through jokes — everyone can use a smile.”
In order to educate the school about Smile Train and its programmes, Avenue House School held two assemblies. In the first, the school watched a film about Smile Train, and at the second assembly, children asked questions to the mother of a child born with a cleft. With the school’s greater understanding of Smile Train’s work, donations started flooding in.
In February, the school cheered as Head Teacher Mr Sheppard informed the school that they had raised more than £400 — much more than their fundraising goal. Mr Sheppard said everyone was proud that the school raised enough to fund close to three smiles.
Roberts shared, “We are so grateful for the support of the Eco Committee and pupils at Avenue House School. It was incredible to see so many young students working to make a difference for other children they would never meet. It’s a beautiful idea, children helping children.”
If you’d like to learn more about ways to help children with untreated clefts, including hosting an event or organising a school fundraiser, please visit the Get Involved section on our site. Your support can help a child receive their forever smile and a second chance at life.