Friday, October 5, 2012

World Smile Day

Today is the 13th annual World Smile Day!

The smiley face that we all know today was created in 1963 by a commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts named Harvey Ball.

 As the years passed, that image became one of the most recognizable symbols of good will and good cheer in the world. However, Harvey Ball became concerned about the over-commercialization of it, worried that its original meaning had become lost in its constant repetition.

It was out of that concern that he came up with World Smile Day. He thought that everyone in the world should devote one day each year (World Smile Day) to smiles and kind acts.

"The smiley face knows no politics, no geography and no religion.  Harvey’s idea was that for at least one day each year, neither should we. He declared that the first Friday in October each year would henceforth be World Smile Day®." (

WSD11 elephantsThe first World Smile Day was held in 1999. Worcester, MA, the smiley face's hometown, was and still is the epicenter for World Smile Day. This year the Worcester event will have a marching band, free stuff, clowns, jugglers, a Ring Master, and (best of all) elephants from the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus!

While all this is going on in town, there will also be "Smile Ambassadors" out delivering Smile Certificates to people and, additionally, there will be local events and activities going on around the world. Is there anything going on at your local library?

After Harvey died in 2001, the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation was created to honor his name and memory. "Harvey Ball believed that each one of us has the ability to make a positive difference in this world and he lived according to that belief. He knew that any effort to improve the world, no matter how small, was worthwhile. And he understood the power of a smile and a kind act. In furtherance of that philosophy the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation focuses on small, grass-roots charitable efforts that otherwise receive little attention or funding." ( The Foundation continues to be the official sponsor of World Smile Day each year.

Want to celebrate with a few of your own acts of kindness? Here are a few books to inspire you:

Kids' Random Acts of Kindness foreword by Rosalynn Carter, introduction by Dawna Markova

Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change: Courageous Actions Around the World by Garth Sundem

Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents collected and adapted by Sarah Conover

Who Cares?: Millions Do-- A Book About Altruism by Milton Meltzer

Peaceful Kingdom: Random Acts of Kindness by Animals by Stephanie Laland

The Doggy Dung Disaster & Other True Stories: Regular Kids Doing Heroic Things Around the World by Garth Sundem.

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