Easton teen helps children through Operation Smile

Joel Barlow grad Kacey Hartmann with children she met on a medical mission to the Philippines through Operation Smile.
Joel Barlow grad Kacey Hartmann with children she met on a medical mission to the Philippines through Operation Smile.

Kacey Hartmann of Easton, a recent graduate of Joel Barlow High School, took a week of her summer vacation to engage in learning, leadership and service. Hartmann took part in the 27th annual Operation Smile International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) July 16-21 in Seattle, Wash.

The 18-year-old took on a more active role in the conference this year. Hartmann served as a team leader, or mentor, to 20 of her peers during the conference. “As a team leader this year, I’m wanted to inspire younger students and encourage them to make a difference through their involvement with Operation Smile,” Hartmann said.

Hartmann joined more than 300 students from across the globe, including China, Vietnam, Ireland, Panama, South Africa and Canada to learn how to advocate for children born with a cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformity.

During the weeklong event, students gained valuable knowledge within the field of global health, joined in peer-to-peer leadership training, and participated in service projects to benefit Operation Smile patients, as well as staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Attendees heard from inspiring speakers share their insights on the topics of leadership, overcoming obstacles, and what it means to make a difference.

Hartmann has been involved with Operation Smile since her freshman year of high school. In 2015, she participated in her first ISLC at Chapman University in Orange County, Calif. She, then participated in the San Diego and Rome conferences in 2016 and 2017. During her sophomore year, she started the Operation Smile Club at Joel Barlow High School. In May 2017, Hartmann went on her first medical mission to Bacolod in the Philippines.

“After working with Operation Smile, I realize there are bigger problems in life than you think and so many people have less,” explained Hartmann. “Going on a mission changed my life and pushed me to want to fundraise more to help more children,” she added.

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