After spending her entire life unable to smile properly, Maria Munir is now helping others cope with the emotional and physical impact of facial palsy.
Her story was broadcast on ITV News Calendar on Thursday 5th June.
The 18-year-old from York was born with a blocked nerve in her face, which causes it to droop on one side, and is also unable to fully close one eye.
Concerned others with the condition may feel alone, she hopes her Fix will raise greater awareness and understanding of facial palsy.
‘I think many take smiling for granted,’ says Maria.
‘It’s a universal language - people communicate with smiles. So when you’re happy and you can’t smile back, it can be quite depressing.
‘You may be trying to express a normal emotion but someone might say, ‘Why are you pulling that face?'
‘I think the greatest issue is the lack of support out there. People don’t just need medicines, they also need emotional help.’
Vanessa Venables, a Trustee at Facial Palsy UK, features in the broadcast item backing Maria’s campaign.
She explains how the condition can affect anybody at any time.
‘Facial palsy is no respecter of age, so it can happen to anyone whether they’re young or old,' says Vanessa.
‘I think people with the condition feel very isolated. Even family and friends may not realise the difficulties that person is facing every day.’
Maria adds: ‘To have such a big voice where I can reach people from all over the country is just brilliant.
‘I hope to use it effectively so that I can help other people with facial palsy and empower them to educate others about the condition.’
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Maria isn't the only Fixer raising awareness of a medical condition.
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