Monday, September 14, 2009

J1: Miami Students Launch Campaign: Smile Miami

For Immediate Release
Contact: Natalia Stefanova ▪ 206-280-5452 ▪

Miami Students Launch Campaign for Violence-Free, Stress-Free Miami
Smile Miami: changing lives one smile at a time

Miami, FL – Who says you need a raise, a vacation, or a big piece of chocolate cake to be happy?

A group of Florida International University students says something as simple as a smile can change a life and a community. Inspired by a similar effort in Washington D.C., FIU students are taking on the challenge of getting thousands of people across Miami to smile.

Why? Miami citizens are facing more stress than ever before – the national unemployment rate is the highest it has been in 26 years and Florida’s unemployment rate is in the double digits for the first time in 34 years. The rate of foreclosures in Miami-Dade County has doubled and is expected to rise even more, contributing to stress in individuals and increased family violence rates.

Research shows that just the sight of another person smiling can activate your facial "smile muscles" (Dimberg & Petterson, 2000; Dimberg, Thunberg & Elmehed, 2000; Niedenthal, 2007). Recent research published in the reputed journal Psychological Science this month suggests that even seeing the printed word "smile" or "frown" activates the corresponding facial muscles. Seeing someone smile, or just reading the word "smile," activates your "zygomatic" facial muscle, which is responsible elevating the sides of your lips into a smile.

What? FIU students are launching Violence-free, Stress-Free Miami campaign in two ways:

1. In the weeks leading up to Sept. 13, these college students are taking to the streets to collect thousands of photographs of people smiling. And as they do so, the students are encouraging Miami citizens to consider the value of their smiles, and how easy it is to lose them over small things like bad traffic or a missed phone call.

2. FIU students partnered with the Art of Living Foundation, an international non-profit educational organization, to organize Yoga Empowerment Service Plus (YES Plus) -- a dynamic leadership workshop for students and young professionals. Thousands of students from universities such as Stanford, Harvard and Cornell report less stress, more energy and motivation, better sleep and broader smiles since taking the workshop.

When: Smile Miami Campaign: Aug. 22– Sep. 13
YES Plus workshops: Sep 15–20 and Oct 20-25

Where: Smile Miami Campaign: FIU campus and the streets of Miami
YES Plus workshop: South Miami Senior High School, 6856 SW 53rd St.

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