A movie set to debut later this month has inspired a kindness campaign right here in St. Louis.
At the heart of it all are children born with cleft lip and palate and craniofacial anomalies.
Decades later, Dana Kiley still remembers what it was like as a child with cleft lip and palate.
"I did feel different. I went through some teasing. I would get a lot of stares. You can imagine how much it hurt a child's confidence," said Kiley.
Now she works at Mercy Hospital with the cleft lip/palate and craniofacial team.
"These kids are some of the most resilient and strong kids I have the privilege of knowing," said Kiley.
Many things have changed since she was a young patient. Years ago, a patient would need dozens of surgeries because of a cleft lip/palate, Kiley has had 18.
Now, many can be treated with four or five.
But, some things have remained the same, like the challenges that these young patients face among their peers. That is chronicled in the new Lionsgate production of the book "Wonder."
It follows the story of a young boy who has had 27 surgeries after being born with craniofacial anomalies and is now trying to fit in at school for the first time.
To counteract the bullying in the movie, and in real life, Kiley is helping lead a kindness campaign in St. Louis.
Now, Christmas trees in Mercy clinics are decorated with ornaments that list various good deeds. Patients can take one and fulfill it for someone else. There is also a calendar of kind gestures to try to accomplish every day. And kids can plant encouraging rocks around town.
They're the type of thing that can change a conversation from the way someone looks, to the kind of person they are.
"The first thing you notice about anyone you meet is their face," said Kiley. "A lot of people shy away from something that's different."
But she is encouraging kids to instead follow the same tagline from the movie - choose kind.
"Just to be kind because you don't know what that child is going through," said Kiley
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