Operation Smile Premieres Interactive Film "change forever™" featuring Tony Hawk to Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Saving Lives

Jan 09, 2013, 13:19 ET from Operation Smile

Film Allows Viewers to Send their Smile on the Journey of a Medical Mission, and Take a Pledge to Advocate for Children Born with Clefts

NORFOLK, Va., Jan. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In honor of Operation Smile's 30th anniversary celebration, share your smile with world-renowned athlete Tony Hawk. On January 10th, Operation Smile, an international children's medical charity, is premiering "change forever" – a short interactive film starring Tony Hawk which can be viewed at www.wecanchangeforever.com. In the film, viewers can upload their smile through Facebook and watch as their smile travels around the world to help a child suffering from a facial deformity such as cleft lip and cleft palate. The online and social media campaign encourages individuals to join the movement by sharing their smile and the film on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. They also are asked to take a pledge to help create greater awareness for children suffering from facial deformities. The pledge advocates that every child has the right to smile.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130109/DC39982 )

The video is launching during National Birth Defect Awareness month. Every three minutes, a child is born with a cleft. One in 10 will not live beyond their first birthday. Children with clefts are often unable to speak or eat properly, and are shunned from their communities.

To increase awareness, Operation Smile launched its 30th Anniversary change forever™ campaign, featuring a year-long series of events in the U.S. and globally. Operation Smile has set a goal to raise significant funds worldwide through the campaign to eradicate the backlog of children suffering from clefts, and increase global access to safe surgical care.

The change forever™ campaign is designed to make a lasting impact. The global campaign is planned to include the additional following elements:

  • The anniversary kicked off in the Philippines. In 30 days in 9 cities, Operation Smile provided more than 8,000 free healthcare evaluations and performed surgeries for 1,219 Filipino children and young adults. More than 1,000 medical volunteers from 38 countries donated their talents for these anniversary missions in the Philippines, where Operation Smile hosted its first-ever medical mission in 1982.
  • As part of a grant awarded to Operation Smile by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Operation Smile will launch a large-scale awareness campaign about craniofacial malformations to increase information for families in the U.S. The campaign is being designed to improve access to healthcare services for children with clefts.
  • Transformational stories from Smile Ambassadors including Roma Downey, Jessica Simpson, Brooke Burke-Charvet, Zachary Levi, Giuliana Rancic, Donald Trump, Jr., Billy Bush and so many others;
  • Multimedia events in Boston, Dallas, Palm Beach, Park City, D.C., NYC, Toronto and LA.
  • In-country field reports from well-known mommy bloggers on surgical missions;
  • A thought-leadership gathering in D.C. where an Operation Smile report on the state of surgical delivery in the global health landscape will be released;
  • Youth initiatives including the 22nd annual International Student Leadership Conference, where over 600 students from more than 20 countries will develop their philanthropic leadership skills.

Visit www.operationsmile.org, follow @operationsmile on Twitter, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/operationsmile for more information.

About Operation Smile ( www.operationsmile.org )
Operation Smile, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, is a global children's medical charity that works in more than 60 countries, whose network of more than 5,000 medical volunteers from over 80 countries is dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children. Since it was founded in 1982, Operation Smile has provided more than 3.5 million healthcare evaluations and conducted over 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities, as well as patients suffering from burns. To build long-term self-sufficiency in developing countries, Operation Smile trains doctors and local medical professionals so they are empowered to treat their own communities, donates medical equipment and supplies, and provides year-round medical treatment through its worldwide Comprehensive Care and Training and Treatment Centers.

Jessica Kraft, Director of Public Relations

SOURCE Operation Smile