Smile Train, a global cleft organization, recently announced actor Jacob Bertrand as their Youth Celebrity Ambassador. Jacob is known for his role as Hawk on the popular Netflix television series Cobra Kai, and was also born with a cleft lip.

As he begun his ambassadorship, Jacob attended a series of interactive virtual learning sessions with Smile Train staff and cleft-affected individuals to learn more about the health implications of cleft. The team also learnt about the impact it has on patients and families at large. Jacob also took part in Smile Train’s Annual Student Ambassador conference, a virtual event geared towards empowering and inspiring high school students who are dedicated to supporting Smile Train’s work.

Commenting on his ambassadorship, Jacob said, “While I play a cleft-affected character on TV, I truly had no idea how severe the impact of a cleft can be, both physically and mentally. One thing in particular that really resonated with me while learning about Smile Train, was realizing that those in the cleft community have experienced some degree of bullying. Growing up, I was severely bullied and, although my experience is not the same as those born with a cleft, I am very familiar with the negative effects of bullying and the toll it takes on your self-esteem and confidence.”

In his new role, Jacob hopes to raise awareness about cleft and its holistic impact on individuals and families and amplify Smile Train’s initiative to instill confidence in those facing bullying. He also hopes to encourage young people to leverage their talents and passions to initiate positive change around the world.

“For the last 21 years, Smile Train has supported safe and quality cleft care, transforming the lives of more than 1.5 million children globally. Over the next five years, our organizational goal is to double our reach, putting more children on track for a healthier and happier future than ever before,” said Troy Reinhart, Smile Train’s Senior Vice President of International Development.