31 JULY 2023, QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES — Art has the power to heal and uplift the spirit. As it celebrates supporting more than 75,000 cleft surgeries in the Philippines, Smile Train – the world’s largest cleft-focused organization – is bringing the transformative power of art to the Philippine cleft community through Art Impact for Health.
A global initiative in partnership with the World Health Organization, Art Impact for Health aims to enable healing, communication, and improved psychosocial well-being for all patients. Cleft affected patients face continuing stigma and many are bullied or mistreated because of their condition. As a result, they struggle with negative self-image and low self-esteem.
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 the years, Smile Train has brought to life its vision of a sustainable and local model of supporting surgery and other forms of essential care. It supports 100%-free cleft repair surgery and end-to-end cleft care for children, including through innovations such as telehealth, the establishment of comprehensive cleft care centers nationwide, and activities such as Art Impact for Health. Smile Train treats the whole patient through programs that provide access to comprehensive cleft care services, helping build their confidence to interact with others in school, community, workplace, and ultimately allowing them to fully thrive.
For more information about Smile Train’s global efforts and to donate, please visit smiletrain.org. To learn more about Smile Train’s local programs in the Philippines, please visit smiletrain.ph, follow Smile Train Philippines on Twitter and Instagram @SmileTrainPh, and like us on Facebook at @SmileTrainPhilippines.