The Make A Smile foundation is holding its first public virtual conference on Saturday to attract and train new volunteers’ skills with the hope of starting new chapter in Sheffield.
Started in 2015 by 24-year-old Cardiff medical student Luke Morgan, the charity aims to give ill and disabled children characters, such as Disney characters, to interact with and look up to.
A distinguishing feature of this charity is character interactions where volunteers visit and entertain children in cartoon costume, similar to the well known Make a Wish Foundation.
COVID 19 restrictions have moved all interactions online in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
The founder and president of the head chapter in Cardiff, Mr Morgan, said: “It’s an important part of growing up to have interactions with characters that you look up to. Children idolise characters that they watch on television.
“(Some) children face barriers to having that and I consider them unfair. This can force a child to mature quite quickly and we’re there to say, ‘no, you are still a child, you are still very much allowed to enjoy your childhood’ “.
The conference promises to give attendees more information on potential careers, especially childcare. Interested attendees who wish to establish a chapter in their university are encouraged to attend in order to be well prepared to entertain and spend time with infirm and children with special needs in line with the charity’s aims.
Other aspects of the conference include hair and makeup tutorials, sign language training and talks given by experienced childcare specialists like Yvonne Newbold. It is free to attend and interested persons can register here.
This event is one of many that the charity runs alongside hospital visits and virtual interactions with popular children’s cartoon icons. Other events and initiatives include Skype visits, sing-a-longs, book readings, visits, large events and arts and crafts.
A virtual event mainly for children is being held on March 27 and is open to the public as well.
The Make a Smile foundation currently boasts of about 700 volunteers across 17 universities across the UK and seeks to expand further in Northern England universities as well. It currently has no chapters in Sheffield but holds virtual character meets that can be booked on their website for all children.