Nfld. & Labrador

This St. John's teen is tackling the stigma of facial differences in a national campaign

"With different faces and different bodies, it doesn't mean we're different," says Alexis MacDonald.

'With different faces and different bodies, it doesn't mean we're different,' says Alexis MacDonald

A smiling teenage girl with black hair stands in front of a beige wall.
Alexis MacDonald, 13, of St. John's is part of a national awareness campaign aimed at ending the stigma of facial differences. (Alex Kennedy/CBC)

A St. John's teenager is fighting the stigma of facial differences as part of a national awareness campaign.

Alexis MacDonald, 13, a Grade 8 student at École Rocher-de-Nord, was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. She says she's always had a passion for educating people about facial differences, which led her to the Youth Advisory Council of AboutFace. 

The charity, which supports people with facial differences along with providing advocacy and education, recently launched a video campaign called "I Am Just the Same As You" — which stars Alexis alongside other young people from across Canada.

"People might say that we're different, we can't do a lot of stuff, and we are not smart and all that stuff," Alexis told CBC News recently. 

"With different faces and different bodies, it doesn't mean we're different.… It doesn't mean we're not capable of doing the exact same things as other people are."

MacDonald performs a trapeze routine in the video, which she says was a lot of fun to put together.

She hopes the video teaches people that no one should be excluded from things or counted out because of their looks, saying it's something she has experienced herself.

"One time in fourth grade I was called 'flat nose.' I was sad, but then I just moved on and I had friends to support me." Alexis said. "I do kind of feel sad and all that stuff, but it's their problem and they can believe that. But as long as you believe you can do it, then you can do it."

She said she's excited to continue working with the charity and educating people about facial differences — and has a message she wants people to know.

"We're the exact same people. We can do the stuff that they can do, and maybe better."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador