South Africa: The Walt Disney Company Gives South Africa’s Children A Smile

By Novell Zwange – JOHANNESBURG – As bonuses and parties bring full swing into the festive season, the world’s favourite family entertainment and media enterprise, Walt Disney Company has brought joy to the lives of 200 children who have had, or are awaiting for corrective facial surgery with donations of Christmas gifts and decorations for the children’s wards where these surgeries have been performed, as part of the Disney Smile Foundation Christmas Party initiative.

The Walt Disney Company recently sponsored 200 Christmas presents, a host of festive decorations and a Christmas tree for each of the children’s wards of the six state academic hospitals across the country where the Smile Foundation facilitates corrective facial surgery for children throughout the year as part of its Smile Week initiative.

Although The Walt Disney Company invests heavily in CSI initiatives in South African communities, this has been the first time it partnered with the Smile Foundation. This year is also the first that the foundation has hosted Christmas parties for all children in Paediatric Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery wards at these hospitals.

The parties were being held between Friday 3 December and Wednesday 8 December at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Tygerberg Academic Hospital, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Universitas Academic Hospital and the Dr. George Mukhari Academic Hospital.

The Smile Foundation is a non-profit organisation that aims to provide expert surgical intervention, create greater social involvement and enable sensible corporate social investment to make a difference in the lives of children with facial anomalies.

Its primary focus is to address the medical backlog in the public healthcare system in dealing with children who suffer from treatable facial abnormalities such as cleft lip and palate, burn victims, Moebius syndrome (facial paralysis) and other conditions. Smile Week is an initiative held at least six times a year, where successive surgeries are performed on children every day of that week.

“The Smile Foundation is thrilled to partner with The Walt Disney Company on this wonderful initiative! These parties are going to be really special, with Christmas 2010 being the year that these children receive both a beautiful present from Disney, as well as the gift of a smile. We are so grateful for Disney’s incredible generosity during this time of giving,” says Michelle Gerszt, Smile Foundation Strategic Projects Manager.

The Smile Foundation is a non-profit organisation that brings people together for the purpose of providing expert surgical intervention, creating greater social involvement and enabling sensible corporate social investment, to make a difference in the lives of children with facial anomalies.

The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive media group.

TWDC has been active in South Africa for over 50 years. In 2006 the Disney Channel launched on the Multichoice DStv platform and in 2009 was voted the #1 coolest TV channel in South Africa in the Sunday Times Generation NeXt survey. Disney is one of the top distributors of US programming in the region, and brings network series, movies and Disney-branded kids and family content to TV viewers, including top rated US network series on air in the market such as ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Brothers and Sisters’. In 2007, Disney’s film distribution arm is the leader for family movies in the market, enjoying considerable success in 2009 with box office hits such as ‘Up’ and ‘The Proposal’ and in 2010 with the record breaking ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Disney is now also at the forefront of bringing new technologies to the market through classic film titles such as ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ on Blu-Ray and DVD. In 2009 Disney launched a direct to consumer mobile site for consumers in South Africa (, allowing tweens and families to access a range of Disney content directly from their mobile phones.