Press Release
Posted 7/17/2018

More than 300 high school students from 19 countries including China, Vietnam, Panama, South Africa, Ireland, Canada and the United States will gather in Seattle, Washington to take part in Operation Smile’s 27th Annual International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) scheduled for July 16-21.    

“This conference exposes students to different cultures and helps them develop and strengthen their leadership skills,” said Jennifer Krzewinski, Operation Smile Associate Vice President of Student Programs.

Attendees are active in their local Operation Smile Student Clubs where they raise awareness, funds and serve as advocates for children who lack access to safe surgery. Students who take part in the leadership conference may qualify to participate in one of Operation Smile’s international medical missions. Operation Smile is an international medical charity that has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial differences.

“July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month,” said Krzewinski. “A significant part of the conference is dedicated to providing training on how to help those in low- and middle-income countries regarding access to safe, well-timed and effective surgical care.”

The majority of activities for the conference will take place at Bell Harbor Convention Center. Attendees will hear inspiring speakers share their insights on the topics of leadership, overcoming obstacles and advocating for change. They’ll also meet like-minded people committed to making a difference in the lives of children born with a cleft condition. 

Operation Smile corporate partner Align Technology, Inc. is the lead event sponsor for ISLC. “Align Technology has collaborated with Operation Smile since 2013, and it’s been a privilege to support the work that Co-Founders Bill and Kathy Magee and the entire organization can be so proud of. Providing new smiles to children and families aligns so closely with our own mission, and we are thrilled to continue our support as a sponsor of the 2018 International Student Leadership Conference. This is a tremendous opportunity to help students develop and strengthen their leadership skills, while learning what it means to make a difference in others’ lives,” said Stuart Hockridge, Align Technology, Inc. Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources.

The conference will begin on July 16 and conclude on July 21.  Highlights include:

  1. Breakout Sessions: “At the intersection of innovation and compassion.” On Tuesday, July 17 - representatives from lead event sponsor, Align Technology, will teach participants about brand and business development. The goal, in part, is to equip students with leadership skills that will help them be successful. The sessions will begin at 3 p.m. at Bell Harbor International Convention Center.
  2. Student Cleft Panel Discussion: “Speaking up.” On Tuesday, July 17 - students born with a cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformity will speak with participants on what it’s like to live with a facial deformity and offer tips on how those in attendance can advocate for other children born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. The session will begin at 6 p.m. at Bell Harbor International Convention Center.
  3. Service Project: “The importance of service and access to medical care.” On Wednesday, July 18 - students will assemble 1600 “appreciation gifts” for staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Participants will then deliver the gifts to the hospital where staff from the craniofacial center will collect the items to be distributed to hospital employees. Students will assemble the “appreciation gifts” from noon to 1 p.m. at Bell Harbor International Convention Center. Students will deliver the items to the hospital from 1-2 p.m.
  4. The Merrell Twins: “Entrepreneurship in the YouTube age.”  The Merrell Twins are YouTube sensations with 3.4 million subscribers. They have been supporting Operation Smile since 2016 when they released a video to fundraise for Operation Smile to “Spread More Smiles.” The twins will speak on Wednesday, July 18 from 5-5:30 p.m. at Bell Harbor International Convention Center.
  5. Shakeit4Smiles launch: July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month. To raise awareness for the work Operation Smile does to help children born with a cleft condition around the world, we're launching the #shakeit4smiles dance-off, an international social media campaign. On Wednesday, July 18 - beginning at 8 p.m. - students will begin to create and record video of their best dance moves. They’ll post the video online with the caption #shakeit4smiles and challenge their friends to a dance-off by tagging them.
  6. Hands-Only CPR Training: All attendees will receive training on how to administer life-saving Hands-Only CPR on Thursday, July 19. Students who attend Operation Smile medical missions will teach this skill to patients and their families. The training will take place from 10 a.m.- noon at the Microsoft Visitor Center with coinciding visitor center tours.

Since 1991, Operation Smile Student Programs has empowered youth globally through advocacy, education, leadership and service. Elementary, middle and high school students have formed more than 900 Operation Smile student clubs worldwide promoting these values on their campuses and in their communities. ISLC further empowers these student leaders and teaches them to become responsible global citizens.

About Operation Smile: Operation Smile has provided hundreds of thousands of safe surgeries for those born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial conditions. With more than three decades of expertise, Operation Smile creates solutions that deliver free surgery to people where it’s needed most.  As one of the largest medical volunteer-based nonprofits, Operation Smile has mobilized thousands of medical volunteers from a wide range of medical specialties from more than 80 countries. Operation Smile engages public-private partnerships to advance health care delivery, train local medical professionals to provide surgical care for patients in their communities, donate crucial medical equipment and supplies, and increase access to surgical care so that everyone living with cleft is treated. Visit www.operationsmile.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. 

About Align Technology, Inc.: Align Technology designs and manufactures the Invisalign® system, the most advanced clear aligner system in the world, and iTero® intraoral scanners and services. Align’s products help dental professionals achieve the clinical results they expect and deliver effective, cutting-edge dental options to their patients. Visit www.aligntech.com for more information. For additional information about the Invisalign system or to find an Invisalign doctor in your area, please visit www.invisalign.com. For additional information about iTero digital scanning system, please visit www.itero.com.