Amanda Konrath, Headteacher at St Faith’s Church of England Infant and Nursery School in Lincoln, was searching for just the right way to teach her students the value of giving back. She needed something that would fit in with her school’s core value of friendship and that students could connect to.
She knew she had found just that perfect thing the moment she saw an opportunity for schools to raise funds and awareness for Smile Train’s World Smile Day® celebrations in October. One of the school’s students was born with a cleft and she saw this as an opportunity for the whole school to work towards creating big, bright, beautiful smiles like his. And more personally, her own son had a cleft in his soft tissue that wasn’t found at birth and caused communication issues for years. “The operation for my son was life-changing, and we are so grateful it was able to happen,” she said.
Amanda signed the school up, and on Friday 2 October, every St Faith’s student did a variety of smile-filled activities: Some children made friendship bracelets.
Year 2 made their own photo frames so they could better share their smiles with friends.
One Reception class shared lollies in the shape of smiles when a kind parent brought in one for every child in the class. The other Reception looked at their own smiles in the mirror and discussed how everyone’s smile is different yet equally wonderful.
As a key part of the day for all classes was learning the value of giving back, each student also brought in a cash donation to Smile Train to spread the day’s smiles to other children around the world.
“We talk to the children about helping others who are less fortunate than us. We also celebrate differences between each other and how we are all special and unique,” Amanda said. “Asking the children to give back to others enables them to see beyond themselves, school, and their family and recognise that we can have an amazing impact on the lives of others. Our acts of kindness or friendship may be simple or small, but have an amazing impact on others.”
The lesson was well-learnt. By the end of the day, the St Faith’s family had come together to raise £240 for Smile Train, enough to provide cleft surgery and other essential care for one child in need, something students of all ages were justly proud of:
“We want to make children smile. We are showing friendship to others.” - Ava
"We are helping other children to smile!" - Cooper
"We can be friends with them too!" - Leo
“The children in our school are so warm and caring,” Amanda reflected. “They really do show compassion and kindness to each other and are developing their understanding of the world around us and how we can all make an impact on the lives of others, even those we don’t know. Thank you, Smile Train, for the work that you are doing to make a difference to the lives of others and make them smile!”
Want to get your community involved in spreading lifesaving smiles to children in need? Check out our Get Involved page.