Did you know that children smile 400 times a day?

03 Jul 2014 in Advocacy, Featured, Events

Youth Group launch “15 Smiles” to Flip the Script on Mental Health Information


Visit 15Smiles.ie

02 July 2014, Dublin. Did you know that children smile 400 times a day? Or that adults only smile 20 times? 15 Smiles is a new youth project developed by two young people from Dublin 15 to change how they and their peers are experiencing mental health awareness and information. The project, which arose from Barnardos’ Amplifying Voices programme, aims to make people smile more through the use of uplifting and inspiring quotes and images: www.15smiles.ie

Eric Hughes aged 15 and Mark McMahon aged 16 spoke at the launch of the project in Google HQ: “It is a simple idea to help people smile more. We believe that mental health information should focus more on what helps us to be healthy mentally and not on the consequences of poor mental health. We want to help people find uplifting and inspiring quotes and images to help them smile and feel better. Our message is that if people are able to find more things to smile about, they will be happier and better able to deal with life when it gets more difficult.

Eric and Mark of 15 Smiles

“At school we are constantly hearing about mental health, which is good, but what we had noticed is the majority of the information focused on the negative aspects of mental health. We hear lots of information about suicide and depression but not so much about staying mentally healthy. We wanted to change that. We want to help change the conversations people have about mental health. We want to help by injecting positivity into people’s lives.”

Did you know it is easier to smile than to frown? At the launch of www.15smiles.ie guests were challenged to smile and laugh as much as children for the day and were invited to jump in the ball pool two at a time and pick up a ball – each with a mini request on it such as “make up a secret handshake” or “find one thing you have in common”. Guests were also invited to use the graffiti wall, take a funny picture in the photobooth and even play with Lego.

Silliness makes your soul smile

Tim Stewart, Barnardos Amplifying Voices, said: “Eric and Mark came up with the idea of www.15smiles.ie  in direct response to what they and their friends were feeling. They also devised how the whole launch event would work, that we would all smile and laugh and really experience what they are communicating to their peers.”

Eric and Mark’s challenge to you!

Smiles are contagious: It’s not just a saying: smiling really is contagious, scientists say. In a study conducted in Sweden, people had difficulty frowning when they looked at other subjects who were smiling, and their muscles twitched into smiles all on their own. So now Eric and Mark want you to try a little bit of science. Please turn to the person beside you. One person must smile while the other tries to frown.

Did you both smile…?!

For more information about 15 Smiles visit: www.15smiles.ie