Order of the Smile
The Order of the Smile (Polish: Order Uśmiechu) is an international award given by children, to adults distinguished in their love, care and aid for children.
The idea of the Order of the Smile was established in 1968 by the Polish magazine Kurier Polski, inspired by Wanda Chotomska. In 1979 (announced by the International Year of the Child) the then-Secretary-General of the United Nations Kurt Waldheim officially recognized the Order. From then, the Order of the Smile became an international order.
In 1996, in Rabka, the Order of the Smile Museum was established on the grounds of the family park known as "Rabkoland." After the region had been given the official status of the "City of Children from around the World," an initiative was put forward to open a permanent Polish Santa's Village, which would accept letters addressed to Santa Claus from children across Poland.
In 2003 an International Charter of the Order of the Smile session took place outside the Warsaw headquarters in Świdnica, where the Child Friendship Center was being erected. Świdnica had been officially titled the "Capital of Children's Dreams," and September 21, 2003, was declared Order of the Smile Children's Day.
The Order of the Smile logo was created and developed by a nine-year-old girl from Głuchołazy, Ewa Chrobak. Using a plate as a template, she drew a sun, and added uneven rays of light. The design, one of 45,000 that had been submitted, was chosen by Szymon Kobyliński, who elaborated it into its current form.
The medal - which is a badge representing a smiling sun - is awarded in Poland by the International Chapter of the Order of the Smile, in Warsaw, Poland, where the administration is headquartered in Świdnica. All candidates chosen by children from around the world become Laureates by the Chapter. The knight or dame of the Order of Smile is an adult, whose work is exceptional.
The Order is awarded twice a year - in spring and in fall. Laureates of the Order of Smile include approx. 850 people from 45 countries. The right to use the title of Knight of the Order of Smile is designated only to those who were decorated at the official ceremony organized by the Chapter.
Although most of the 59 members of the Chapter are of Polish descent, it includes representatives from other countries including: Armenia, Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
At the forefront of the International Chapter of the Order of Smile stands the Chancellor, Marek Michalak, who remains in this position since 19 January 2007. Previous Chancellors include: Ewa Szelburg-Zarembina (from 1968 to 1976), Radoslaw Ostrowicz (from 1982 to 1990, and Cezary Leżenski (from 1976 to 1981, and again from 1992 to 2006).
On 16 November 1992, the International Chapter of the Order of Smile was officially registered in Poland as an association.
Some notable Knights and Dames to receive the Order of the Smile include: Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Queen Silvia of Sweden, Sarah Ferguson, Tove Jansson, Dagmar Havlova, Jolanta and Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Jacek Kuroń, Astrid Lindgren, J. K. Rowling, Steven Spielberg, Kurt Waldheim, Nelson Mandela, Hilary Koprowski, Otylia Jędrzejczak, Oprah Winfrey, Peter Ustinov, and Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski.
The youngest Knight to ever receive the Order of the Smile was Marek Michalak in 1994, then aged 23. The oldest was Irena Sendlerowa in 2007, aged 97.
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