With the help of Manawatu Westmount School eight children will be able to smile again with cleft lip and palate repair operations!
Events team leader Elise Beatson, a year 13 student at Westmount, organised a Drop of Sunshine Day to raise funds for Give a Smile.
"We have kids who go to our school who have a sibling who had a cleft lip, so it was something we were quite passionate about and understood a bit about," Elise said.
"We discovered charities overseas that helped with cleft lips but we wanted to be able to support a local New Zealand one. When we looked up 'smile's' we came across Ruel's Give a Smile and went from there."
Give a Smile has been set up to help repair cleft lips and palates for children whose families cannot afford it. With bases in the Philippines, Fiji and New Zealand (main office), Give a Smile aims to put a smile on children's faces not just through repair operations, but also through giving children appropriate nutrition when their parents can't and a home when they are orphaned or unable to be with family.
The Westmount fundraiser week, at the beginning of March, raised just over $2,000 and got the whole school involved in events designed to bring a smile to students.
Students had had water activities, sausage sizzle lunches, zorb soccer, a balloon release with a prize for the furthest travelling balloon, and wristbands to wear for the week.
“The students really got into it. We heard many positive comments from them about the cause the money was going towards and they were all really passionate about it and got involved because they knew that there support could help change the lives and put a smile on the faces of less fortunate children."
Along with Elise, the team of eight students regularly organise fundraising events for different charities, something Westmount School is known for.
"It's an awesome way to learn and you're working with people in the real world," Elise said about being on the events team.
"We have 15 different campuses across the country and we run big fundraisers each year."
Cleft lip and palate affects around one newborn child in every 700 in New Zealand, and one in every 500 in Asia. There is little known about the specific cause of cleft lip and palate, but it is one of the most common birth defects in the world.
A cleft usually occurs in the first 6 to 10 weeks of pregnancy, during the time the baby's upper jaw, nose and mouth are developing. In the case of a cleft defect, the parts of the mouth and lip don't fuse together properly.
Children with a cleft will often have trouble with eating, breathing and speaking. As well as physical issues, most children will not be accepted socially and struggle with finding a job and going to school.
The reconstructive surgery is simple and the change is immediate, with the cost per operation at $250 with Give a Smile.