The spirit can be nourished and healed via art. The world’s largest cleft-focused nonprofit, Smile Train, is bringing the transforming power of art to the Philippine cleft community through Art Impact for Health as it commemorates funding of more than 75,000 cleft surgeries in the country.
Art Impact for Health is a global effort run in collaboration with the World Health Organization that aims to increase psychological wellbeing for all patients by facilitating healing and communication. sPatients with clefts continue to be stigmatized, and many of them are bullied or treated unfairly as a result of their condition. They consequently struggle with poor self-esteem and a negative perception of themselves.
Developing sustainable cleft care in the Philippines
Smile Train knows that cleft care is not just surgical care, and patients with cleft often need ongoing speech, orthodontic, nutrition, and psychosocial care to survive and thrive. Beyond surgery, cleft patients need psychosocial care integrated into their cleft treatment. In celebration of the organization’s 75,000 surgery landmark, Smile Train, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Philippine Band of Mercy, held an art workshop today, bringing the cleft community closer together. The event was attended by patients and families affected by cleft, cleft community advocates, representatives of the World Health Organization, and Smile Train partners and ambassadors, including the winner and runners-up of Miss Universe Philippines 2023.
The workshop aims to help cleft-affected patients discover healing through art by forging a connection between one’s mind and body, thereby enabling self-expression and empowerment.
“Healing and health go beyond procedures and treatments. Psychosocial well-being plays a big role in healing and recovery, as well as in building resilience to overcome challenges,” said Mamta Carroll, Senior Vice President and Regional Director for Smile Train Asia.
“As such, we at Smile Train are proud to work alongside the World Health Organization in the Art Impact for Health initiative, as it engages not just patients but those helping in their care by supporting culture and art activities that promote well-being and health for all.”
The Art Impact for Health workshop also spreads awareness and deters stigma regarding cleft, which affects children around the world – including the Philippines, where around 5,000 children are born with a cleft every year.
It also mirrors Smile Train’s enduring commitment to serve the Filipino cleft community through free cleft care and treatment services that can bring transformative change to thousands of Filipinos born with a cleft.
Over time, Smile Train has succeeded in achieving its goal of developing a sustainable and regional strategy for financing operations and other critical medical services. It advocates for completely free cleft repair surgery and total cleft care for kids, including through developments like telehealth, the opening of comprehensive cleft care facilities across the country, and initiatives like Art Impact for Health. Through programs that offer access to comprehensive cleft care services, Smile Train treats each patient as a whole, fostering in them the confidence to engage with others in the classroom, community, and workplace and ultimately enabling them to thrive.
Visit smiletrain.org. to learn more about Smile Train’s global initiatives and to make a donation. Visit smiletrain.ph, follow Smile Train Philippines on Twitter and Instagram @SmileTrainPh, and like us on Facebook at @SmileTrainPhilippines to find out more about our regional initiatives in the Philippines.