September 23, 2014 by wilsonneelynyc
A collaboration between facial reconstruction support organization myFace and New York Times bestselling author R. J. Palacio aims to bring a message of empathy and understanding to classrooms throughout the nation. Acknowledging the crucial impact that a person’s face has on their relationships with others and themselves, myFace strives to raise awareness and funds for those who require the extensive surgeries necessary to correct severe facial deformities. As part of that mission, the organization is developing an empathy-based English Language Arts curriculum, which launches in select schools this fall.
One of the foundational literary works for this project is R. J. Palacio’s Wonder. The book tells the story of Auggie, who was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a condition that results in severe facial anomalies. The narrative describes Auggie’s life as an energetic, intelligent boy who must contend with the challenges of looking so different from his friends and family. Perhaps more importantly, the book also examines the significance and impact of Auggie’s struggles and personality on the lives of those around him.
Palacio wrote Wonder as a response to seeing her own children react negatively to a child with Treacher Collins Syndrome. The resulting story of compassion and acceptance is a natural match for the English curriculum being developed by myFace.