Utah medical specialists will soon help spread a smile across the face of the earth.

They will be participating in Operation Smile's medical mission to the Philippines in February.Team members include plastic surgeons Drs. J. Gregory Kjar and Larry G. Leonard; and nurses Joyce Peterson and Barbara Barnes from LDS Hospital. Other members from the Intermountain region are Dr. G. Scott Oldroyd, Bountiful; Kathleen Hume and Janet Duke, nurses from Centerville. Bette Hubrich of Missoula, Mont. is also participating.

Operation Smile was founded in 1982 by Dr. William P. Magee, Jr., a plastic surgeon, and his wife, Kathy, a nurse and social worker. The Norfolk, Va.-based organization travels to Third World countries to perform reconstructive surgery on children with birth defects and other deformities. Thus far, the medical mission has treated nearly 2,500 children in the Philippines, Kenya, Liberia, and Colombia.

The mission of the health care specialists is to offer children a brighter life.

Kjar, who has made other trips for Project Smile, said many of the children have been hidden at home with debilitating deformities, unable to go to school, learn to read and write, and become a part of a community they have never known.

"The power of Operation Smile doesn't lie just in changing the face of a child," Dr. Magee said. "Our purpose is also to use the trust and the relationship that's developed through the healing of that child's face so that we can help break down barriers around the world. We give our time and our talent, and they give us their smiles, their appreciation, a trinket, a basket of bananas. That's all they have."

The missions of Operation Smile depend upon voluntary support - including equipment, supplies and money. Local donations can be made through Kjar's office, 425 Medical Drive, Bountiful.