about

making faces
Improv-ing self esteem …one smile at a time!

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Making Faces is a non-profit organization that helps children with facial differences and supports anti-bullying initiatives in schools and youth organizations through innovative improvisational workshops
In 2003, Making Faces began offering a unique program of improvisational workshops for children with facial differences… and began building self-esteem, one smile at a time.

In 1994, Making Faces founder Michael Williams-Stark began presenting his unique improv-based workshops for children who, like himself, were born with or acquired a facial difference (in Michael’s case, the most severe cleft lip and palate on record in British Columbia).

These lively and engaging workshops brought a sense of fun and inclusion to a vulnerable minority of children who typically would have shied away from participating in the school and social activities most children enjoy and take for granted.

The workshops’ results quickly began to speak for themselves. Kids said they no longer feared being called on in class, and shared stories about taking part in playtime activities with other children. Teachers reported increased participation in classroom discussions. Parents proudly shared their children’s improved report cards and increased in social activities. One parent credited the workshops as providing her daughter with the confidence to deliver her Grade 8 Valedictorian address to a gymnasium full of parents and fellow students.

These results sewed the seeds from which Making Faces was born, and since its inception has provided workshops for thousands of children and trained a host of professionals, from social workers and nurses to speech pathologists, to facilitate Making Faces’ improv-based workshops.

In 2008, Making Faces was recognized by Today’s Parent Magazine with the prestigious For Kids’ Sake Award, the celebrates organizations that make life better for kids. And in 2011, founder Michael Williams-Stark was presented with the Douglas College Distinguished Alumni Award for Making Faces’ groundbreaking workshops for children.

In 2014, Making Faces began developing anti-bullying workshops for schools and youth organizations, based on the same principles and objectives of its successful workshops for children with facial differences.

Today, Making Faces offers workshops that improve communication skills, encourage self-expression and teamwork and foster confidence and self-esteem in a creative and supportive environment.

“Making Faces is filling an integral gap in promoting children’s mental wellness.”

— Dr. Khrista Boylan, MD, FRCPC, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University

Michael can bring making faces to your town and train facilitators so you can run your own making faces workshops.

 
Contact us for more details.

 

Objectives of the Program

1
Confidence and Self Esteem

Building confidence and self esteem encourages participants to pursue their hopes and dreams.

2
Communication and Self Expression

Improving the skills central to self expression is key to promoting communication and participation in day to day activities.

3
Life Skills Through Improv

Teaching basic “acting skills” that are also “life skills”, such as: eye contact, voice projection, public speaking and creative storytelling.

4
An Accepting and Caring Environment.

We believe that providing a safe environment of trust encourages acceptance of others and of yourself.

5
Shared Experience

Through discussion and sharing personal experience, we develop skills that lead to confidence and self expression, which help participants learn to discuss their differences and overcome teasing, bullying and related life obstacles.

6
Fun and Creativity

Through improv, having fun, being silly and creative, we enable participants to build life skills like eye contact, body language, voice and communication.

7
Finding Strength

Helping kids discover their own inner strength to be the hero in their own story, they will have the tools to participate on a day to day basis, with the knowledge that they have the right to love and be loved.

8
Follow Your Dreams

With all of these tools, participants will have the knowledge and skills to pursue their dreams, whether that be voicing animation, playing in a band, being an actor or even a politician.

Who we are:

  • Michael Williams-Stark

    As a child Michael Williams-Stark thought to himself, "Let’s see, I’m facially disfigured and vocally...

  • Michael Meissner

    Michael Meissner is our Executive Director and has been involved with Making Faces since 2005....

  • Kevin Frank

    Kevin has been a professional actor for 30 years. During this time, he has performed...

  • Adam Bighill

    Adam Bighill is a linebacker for the BC Lions of the CFL. Bighill signed as...

  • Maritza Basaran

    Maritza is a former Making Faces student and is extremely excited to join the team...

  • Chan Drepaul, MBA, BA

    Chan has worked in the not-for-profit sector in diverse organizations for over 18 years and...

  • Dani Blennerhassett

    Fulfilling the role of the secretary with Making Faces since 2013. Dani Blennerhassett holds a...