Smile Inside® provides personal development activities that guide, inspire, and build character in youth.

Vanessa LeeVanessa Lee (Abraham), author of Smile Inside: Experiential Activities for Self-Awareness Ages 12-13 and the companion handbook for ages 14-15, draws her inspiration from classes and extra-curricular experiences in her youth that focused on personal development.

Vanessa has compiled and developed an organized collection of personal development activities that work to meet the needs of today’s youth.  Each experience leads the participants to have realizations about themselves and others and equips them with tools for living an aware and responsible life.  This in turn helps them grow with wisdom through adolescence and into adulthood.

Vanessa graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Ohio University in 1995.  She has both taught and been a guest presenter in both rural and urban primary and secondary schools in the United States and Australia.  She has developed, organized, and facilitated camps, workshops, programs, and courses that focus on personal development.  In addition, Vanessa trained to become a yoga instructor and spent three years in the role of a full-time student welfare coordinator at Daylesford Secondary College.  In the past she has worked for the Wesley @ Clunes residential program, the Girl Scouts of America, and MacKillop Family Services. All of her experiences have inspired her to advocate for youth through her services and resources.

Vanessa has most recently developed a strengths-based activity program for children ages 5-11 called CODE Book™ and an Emotional Literacy game called, “Feel” in the Blanks®.


Vanessa provides resources that guide, inspire and build character in youth.

  • These practical activities engage individuals in a conscious journey where they are challenged to become self-aware, empathic, and resilient.
  • Programs like these have a profound effect on everyone, but in particular, it strengthens support networks for otherwise socially isolated young people.  In addition, some of the activities are a vehicle to help uncover serious problems and identify where intervention is needed.
  • After a Smile Inside® workshop, camp, or course, participants walk away more connected to their authentic selves with a new appreciation for others as unique individuals.  They gain an understanding of personal development and how it can serve themselves and others.

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Vanessa develops prevention and intervention personal development programs based on the needs of your group that focus on developing self-awareness through experiential learning.

  • This work is about giving young people opportunities to gain insight and self-awareness about their behaviour, their feelings, their minds, and their motivations.  Helping them acquire a healthy self-concept and catering to their social and emotional needs is crucial to their personal growth, their capacity for learning and their potential for happiness in their lives.  Some activities address and explore their relationships with others and ultimately, how they relate to the world.







Programs/Workshops for Teens

  • “Self-Awareness 101” (Teens and their parents, Unity Church, Cleveland, OH)
  • Personal growth program for at-risk 7th and 8th grade girls (Rosehill Secondary College)
  • Personal growth program for at-risk 8th grade boys (Mount Alexander College)
  • “Girls’ Group” (7th grade girls, Debney Park Secondary School)
  • “Mentoring Program” (7th and 9th grade students, Debney Park Secondary School)
  • “Mentor Training” (9th grade students, Debney Park Secondary School)
  • “Leadership Training” (Youth Center Leaders, Hepburn Shire Council)
  • “Cooperation, Optimism, Leadership” (Barberton High School DECA Seniors)
  • Authenticity, Motivation, Self-Discipline (Barberton High School DECA Juniors)
  • “Boomerang Ranch Band Camp Follow Up” (7th-12th grades, Daylesford Secondary College)
  • “Band Camp” (7th-12th grades, Daylesford Secondary College)
  • Leadership Training for Student Representative Council x3 (7th-12th grades, Daylesford Secondary School)
  • “Yoga and Meditation” (10th-11th grades, Thomas Carr Secondary College)
  • “Mastering the Mind and Positive Visualization” (11th grade psychology students, Galvin Park Secondary College)

Programs/Workshops for Children

  • Artsy Self-Discovery Workshops (Northside Marketplace, Alley Cats Marketplace)
  • KidsFest Activities (Akron and Cuyahoga Falls)
  • “Ready, Set, Go!” Transition Program (6th grade, St. Margaret’s Primary School)
  • “Catholic Schools’ Transition Day” (Rotating workshops for 7th grade, based at St. Therese’s School)
  • “Footscray North Transition Day” (Full-day programming for 5 classrooms, Footscray North Primary School)
  • “Transition Program” (6th grade, Debney Meadows Primary School)
  • “Girls’ Group” & “Boys’ Group” (6th grade, St. Brendan’s Primary School)
  • Student support specialist for children with social and emotional issues (K-6th grades, Derrimut Primary School)
  • “Transition Program” (6th grade, The Grange Primary School)
  • Coordinated Tutoring Programs for Koorie children (2nd-6th grades, The Grange Primary School, Newport Gardens Primary School)
  • “Optimism and Goal-Setting” (6th grade, St. Michael’s Primary School)
  • “Rock Up” (5th-6th grade boys, Footscray West Primary)
  • “Creative Visualization and Relaxation” (4-6th grades, Thomas Chirnside Primary)
  • “Rock Up” program consultant, redevelopment, delivery and training (for School Focused Youth Service)
  • “Rock Up” (6th grade, Flemington Primary School)
  • “Anti-Bullying Culture” 3 classrooms with breakout sessions for just girls and just boys (6th grade, Ascot Vale West Primary School)
  • Children’s Art Classes (Werribee Community Center)

Vanessa conducts professional development for teachers, guidance counselors, youth workers, camp counselors, and other youth educators to increase their effectiveness when working with groups of youth.

Rather than being a repeat private service provider, Smile Inside creates sustainable personal development programs that are specific to an organization’s needs and train staff via peer observation.  The customised program is then conveyed in an easy to follow handbook for the staff to use over and over again.  Ideally, the program development, facilitation and training components are meant to complement each other, but each service can also be contracted independently.

American School Counselor's Association Conference Philadelphia, PA

American School Counselor’s Association Conference Philadelphia, PA

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Professional Development Workshop for School Band Directors Melbourne, Australia

Professional Development/Workshops for Adults

  • Creative Catapult, The Maker Sessions Panel Guest (Akron Art Museum)
  • “Serenity Now” (Summit County Juvenile Court Staff)
  • “Decide Like No One’s Watching (General Public, United Way via Creative Cog)
  • “Increasing Capacity for Self-Awareness in Youth” Live Webinar (Vitality, 4th Annual Virtual Emotional Intelligence Conference via Six Seconds)
  • “iSEL The Why and How of Social Emotional Learning” (Pod Leader for online workshop series, Six Seconds)
  • “Learning With iPads” (Education Support Worker Staff, MacKillop Family Services)
  • “Character Education: Components of a Comprehensive Program” (Student Youth Workers, Victoria University)
  • “The Band Whisperer” (Band Directors, Victorian Music Conference)
  • “House Leader Activity Ideas” (Teaching Staff, Wesley College’s Clunes Residential Campus)
  • “Self-Awareness, Self-Esteem, Gentle Exercise & Relaxation” (Acquired Brain Injury Support Groups)
  • “Stress Reduction and Relaxation” (Schizophrenia Support Groups)
  • Yoga (Thomas Chirnside Primary School Staff, Thomas Carr Secondary College Staff, General Public)