B-P students chosen to help children smile

BROADALBIN ?- A pair of Broadalbin-Perth High School students are working to ensure children all over the world have something to smile about, a news release said.

Anna Pietro and Christa Decker, both 16 and in the 11th grade, joined a local chapter of Operation Smile, a charitable organization that performs free surgeries to fix cleft palates for children all over the world.

Pietro and Decker attended a leadership conference in Virginia in summer 2012 and applied to be selected for mission trips. Both were selected to travel overseas for separate trips, for which they both have to pay a portion. The students also had to attend mission training this past summer.

Pietro was assigned to a team that traveled to Guatemala for 10 days this past November. While there, Pietro and the other student were responsible for making presentations about oral health to groups of parents and children at the hospital where the cleft surgeries were being performed, at a school for children with Down syndrome, a hospital for children with heart problems and an orphanage.

“Our job was to educate as many people as possible,” Pietro said in the release.

But much of their time was spent with the children coming in for surgery and their families.

“We were there to play with the kids and help calm the parents down,” she said in the release. “It was hard to see what they were going through.”

Decker is still waiting for her trip assignment.

The Spanish club at the Broadalbin-Perth Middle School donated toothbrushes and toys for the girls to give away on their trips.

To learn more about Operation Smile or to help with its mission, go to