Six children and youth with facial differences are featured in a public awareness video launched today by AboutFace.
The youth, ages eight to fourteen, appear in the two-minute video as part of AboutFace’s Beyond My Face awareness and education campaign, aimed at reducing stigma and building understanding of facial differences. The youth speak about their interests and future goals and ask viewers to see beyond their difference.
The lack of public acceptance of facial differences makes this campaign vital, Danielle Griffin, Executive Director of AboutFace, says. “Year after year in our surveys, community members report their experiences of stares, exclusion, bullying, and barriers to opportunities. The misconceptions and stereotypes about people with a facial difference are persistent.”
Alec Saunter-Williams, an 8-year-old with Goldenhar Syndrome, dreams of one day being a movie director. “I’ve noticed that people with facial differences are often kinder to other people because we understand what it feels like to be treated badly. That’s why I wanted to be in the video. We are asking people to look past the outside to see that we are all the same on the inside.”
Christopher Sans, father of 11-year-old Abigail, believes that educating people about facial differences is key to reducing the misconceptions. “It was Abigail’s idea to give a presentation to her class last year about her facial hemangioma,” says Sans. “Abigail wanted to educate her peers on facial hemangiomas, facilitate dialogue, and let them know it’s OK to talk to her about it. She wants to help others be able to see beyond her facial difference.”
Given the pandemic and world events, the video is coming out at the right time, Griffin maintains. “In many ways, it feels like society is at a turning point. These kids are challengers of stereotypes. They’re showing that we need to create a better world of diversity and inclusion.”