Being a kid is rough sometimes, learning to cope with hardships at home, emotions, peers, and everything else that comes with growing up can suck, and bullying is part of them. All types of bullying are horrible and unacceptable, whether it’s towards children at school or adults in their workplace. Bullying cannot be explained; it can only be experienced.
Everyone is a victim or can be a victim of bullying. Bullying occurs all across the world, but most do not realize the causes and effects it has on certain students. Bullies choose to bully because they get awarded for their actions. They do not care how others feel, or they might come from dysfunctional families.
What people fail to realize is bullying puts a strain on more than one person, and what may be set out to be a joke is more than able to transpire into a tragedy at the drop of a dime.
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Growing up wasn’t easy for Evan Hill, mostly due to all the teasing and bullying he had to endure because of his unusually large buck teeth and an overbite so severe he couldn’t even close his mouth or speak properly. The twelve-year-old boy from Christchurch, New Zealand, was known to his peers as the ‘rabid kid’ because of his two big pearly whites that stuck out much like a rabbit.
Sadly, his teeth made him an easy target for bullying at school. Evan was the butt of cruel jokes at school, despite the fact that he was friendly and kind. Orthodontist Rob Sloiter described Evan’s buck teeth as one of the worst cases he has ever seen in 25 years. The upper jaw is supposed to sit at a 2-degree tilt; Evan’s was on a 12-degree angle.
Also, there was a 2-centimeter gap between his top and bottom teeth. The buck teeth were so massive that it cost upwards of $12,000 to fix, but Evan’s family was stuck in a financial rut. A costly earthquake had recently impacted Evan’s home in Christchurch, and the single-wage family lost the car needed to take Evan to dental appointments. In New Zealand, basic dental treatment is free for those under the age of 18; however, Evan was not eligible since he required much more advanced dental work.
Evan’s heartbroken mom, Barbara, told News Hub that her family considered mortgaging their house to pay for his dental expenses, but before they lost all hope, Evan appeared on ‘Campbell Live,’ a new show in New Zealand. After sharing his story with the scores of viewers at home, his life unexpectedly changed in an instant.
The story touched a number of readers; he was met with overwhelming support. People from Evan’s community and all across New Zealand responded to Evan’s TV segment with selfless donations, so much support that strangers actually launched a fundraising campaign to help raise the money needed for Evan to undergo the operation he desperately wanted. Part of the money was also used to buy a car for the Hill family.
The leftover donations went into a trust for other kids in need of dental work that their families cannot afford; they called it the ‘Wish for a Smile Trust.’ The fund is administered by New Zealand’s Association of Orthodontists and continues to assist others to this day. It wasn’t long before $100,000 had been raised. Barbara was absolutely blown away by the generosity of strangers. ‘I don’t know where we would have been today without the generosity we had,’ Evan’s mother told News Hub.
Five years after Evan’s story first went public, finally, Evan got the treatment he so desperately needed. Evan had undergone extensive dental work; he made monthly visits to the orthodontist. The orthodontist shifted Evan’s teeth 15 millimeters until finally, all of his patients paid off, and his braces were finally removed.
For the first time ever, this amazing kid got his dream smile. He could finally smile without feeling embarrassed or ashamed about it, all thanks to the kindness of strangers. Now a teenager, Evan is out of school and looking towards building his future. It’s amazing to see how much this one change has impacted him. When asked what he thought, this was his reply, ‘good.’
I can’t help but smile. Like Evan, there are other kids whose self-esteem has been affected by their smile. Doctors mention how common it is to meet kids who don’t want to smile or speak publicly or cover their mouths a lot. That’s in addition to enduring the true insults hurled by other children.
As human beings, we are fighting personal battles all the time, sometimes publicly and sometimes privately. Some can be small, while others may face bigger problems.
A companion in times of trial and tribulation can make even the most devastating of tragedies bearable, a shoulder to lean on or a hand to hold when we stumble allows us to regain our balance, strength, and bearing, even if for just a moment, so that we can soldier on and provide the same for someone else when they are struggling. This story shows humanity at its best. When people get together and help others, we are able to work wonders.