The movie and book Wonder follow Augie, a 10-year-old boy with facial deformities as he goes to school for the first time and meets new people.
Now, the Wonder Outreach Program puts teenagers with conditions like Augie’s in classrooms.
Students learn and ask questions about craniofacial disorders from people who live with them.
The program is spreading the movie’s message of “choose kind” to hundreds of children.
In Wonder, Augie is subjected to bullying, stares, and finally, acceptance as other kids see beyond his deformities.
“Some days, I feel like I don’t hear as well as I do other days…and then some days I just don’t want to,” said Sarah Woolworth, Wonder Program Volunteer.
Sarah Woolworth and Isaiah Acosta both have craniofacial differences.
They share stories about multiple surgeries and dealing with bullies because of how they look. And they take questions.
“After, I feel like they learned something, and they’re like, “Wow, I’ll definitely work on being kinder, I learned something. I can see a change in their eyes,” said Woolworth.
Jeffrey Takeuchi has seen the program three times, and still learns new things.
“I think it’ll make a big difference, but it might take just a little bit more,” said Takeuchi.
Patricia Beals, from the Barrow Cleft and Craniofacial Center, loves watching the humanity develop in kids who meet Woolworth and Acosta.
“I’ve seen them move beyond, ‘This is a patient with a medical condition’ to, ‘This is a peer who likes jazz or is a good painter,'” said Beals.
Woolworth says she learns things from the program, too. She hopes it goes nationwide because “It’s fascinating! It’s amazing!”
And she wants more people to embrace Wonder’s message of, “choose kind.”
So far, the Wonder Program has reached about 1,500 children.