A 27-year-old University of Calgary student hopes education and awareness will help thwart the cruel comments that she and others with her condition have received as a result of their facial paralysis.

Kelsey Ferrill has been living with Moebius syndrome, a rare congenital neurological condition, her entire life. At the age of five she underwent ‘smile surgery’, a facial surgical procedure that relocated muscles from her thigh to her face in an attempt to increase her ability to physically express herself.

“People like me who may look different, we’re just the same,” said Ferrill. “We’re just people who like to do the same things – go to school and work –all the same things that everyone else wants.”

Ferrill, who is pursuing a degree in communications, says her appearance and the way she speaks have led many to believe she has a mental disability. She hopes to use both her voice and her writing to empower others and to reduce the stigma surrounding the condition.

“Everyone has a story, especially people who are different,” said Ferrill. “I want to be the person to tell those stories and to raise awareness and be and an advocate for those people.”

Globally, there are approximately 10,000 confirmed cases of patients with cranial nerve deficiencies and Wednesday marks international Moebius Awareness Day.

For more information about Moebius syndrome visit Moebius Syndrome Awareness Day

With files from CTV's Kevin Fleming