Ava Tankersley and members of the Operation Smile club write positive messages on the sidewalk running up to her school, Hampton Roads Academy. (Photo courtesy of Ava Tankersley)

Global goes Local

Inspired by Operation Smile and its worldwide impact, our student volunteers ‘Spread the Love’ and conduct service projects for their schools and communities.

By Ava Tankersley, student volunteer

Editor’s note: As part of our second annual “Spread the Love” campaign, from Feb. 10-14 our student volunteers will bring the Operation Smile spirit of kindness to their schools and communities. Here, Ava lists out five ways you can “Spread the Love,” too. 

1. Create a positive and welcoming environment within the school. Here at Hampton Roads Academy, we made a positive message board, a paper chain of what everyone loves about the school, and a poster with pictures that were taken over the past year. Our classmates walk into the school and see cheerful notes written in chalk on the sidewalk. I think that this creates a sense of community.

2. Let people know what they mean to you. This might be teachers, faculty or other students. It’s always nice to know the impact you’ve made on people’s lives. We do this by making thank you cards. For “Spread the Love” week, we’re planning on baking some treats for the firefighters at the station that’s next to our school.

3. Give each other compliments. It’s easy and takes nearly no time, but it could make someone’s day.

4. Branch out and talk to people who may not be in your everyday classes or friend group. In our Operation Smile club, we try to make sure that everyone feels included. We do this by doing frequent icebreakers and projects within our club, where we work with different people from different grade levels.

5. Team up with other clubs within the school. Almost all clubs are trying to make the school into a better environment, so they usually are not opposed to helping out when trying to spread the love throughout the school. We team up with different clubs to complete community service projects and fundraisers. Just as an example, we’re partnering with the freshman class for their Valentine’s Day carnation sale; we’ve asked people to donate their change so we make sure every students receives a flower this year.

Ava is a member of our Virginia Regional Leadership Council and serves as the president of the Operation Smile club at Hampton Roads Academy. She’s a junior who’s been involved with Operation Smile for four years.