Wisconsin Leaders Hand out Free Smiles in Denver
Leadership is influence. Leadership is about being a servant first. Leadership is turning vision into reality. Leadership is making life better for the people around us.
My name is Amelia Windorski, and the WASC not only taught me these lessons, but also gave me and a friend, fellow “WASCer” Elizabeth Dean, the courage to put these messages into action.
Elizabeth and I were spending a week in New Mexico, and a one-hour layover in Denver was part of the itinerary. We wanted to do something special during that time, and Elizabeth, inspired from Level III leadership camp, suggested posters that give out “Free Smiles.”
We spent the rest of our evenings creating posters that said, “Free Smiles” with smiles on the bottom, so people could rip one off to keep. We even wrote inspirational quotes on every tab, encouraging people, “Everyone smiles in the same language! Seven days without a smile make one weak! Finish everything you do with a smile!”- Too often, we noticed, people are without a smile.
In Denver, we started by hanging up a few posters, but got little reaction. Then, I had a crazy, scary, wonderful idea: what if we held up the signs ourselves? I read one of the smiles that said, “Do one thing every day that scares you,” and stood up with my sign.
We stood outside our flight gate for an hour and a half holding the signs, and the reactions were amazing! It put a smile on so many people’s faces- not everyone took a smile, but nearly everyone who read the sign smiled. Some people took our picture, others complimented our idea, and one woman even asked for a poster for herself. Possibly the best (and most adorable) reaction, was when three little girls, also waiting for the plane, asked if they could take signs and stand with us. That hour and a half was one of the best in my life- to be able to make people happy was amazing, and I hope we made their day better.
The WASC tells us that students can make a difference, and I firmly believe this. However, when we think of making a difference, we often think of ending world hunger, ending war, or ending sickness. Sometimes, making a difference isn’t about ending something- it’s about starting something. That can be as big as a food drive, or as small as making a stranger smile, but whatever it is, every single one of us is capable.