Cleft Lip and Palate Awareness Week 2023: Thank You!

May 14, 2023

This Cleft Lip and Palate Awareness Week, we asked you to help us celebrate difference by sharing your stories, sharing our posts and stepping up to help us fund our vital support services.

With every post shared and every penny raised, you’ve helped us make sure that no one goes through their cleft journey alone.

  • We posted 12 videos to raise awareness and bust myths about cleft lip and palate – find them all below, and keep sharing!
  • Over 2,000 people posted in the #CleftLipAndPalateAwarenessWeek hashtags to tell their story
  • Across all platforms, you shared our videos and posts until over 300,000 people saw them!
  • 142 of you joined our Step Up for Cleft Lip and Palate Challenge.
  • The ‘Step Up for Cleft Lip and Palate’ campaign has raised £13,000, with the total still rising!

To every single one of you who got involved, we’d like to say a huge THANK YOU! 

Join us now as we reflect on a week of story-sharing, myth-busting and awareness-raising. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Saturday 8th May

On Saturday, we kicked off with our launch video:

Volunteer Lucy helped us launch the Step Up for Cleft Lip and Palate Challenge

Sunday 9th May

Why is it so important to raise awareness of cleft?

Monday 10th May

❌ MYTH: “Cleft doesn’t happen in the UK”

✅ FACT: All over the world, around one in 700 babies is born with a cleft!

In the UK, that’s 1,200 every year, or three every single day.

There are around 90,000 people in the UK today who were born with a cleft – that’s more than the population of Stevenage!

Tuesday 11th May

❌ MYTH: “The parents must have done something wrong”

✅ FACT: The causes of cleft are complicated and will be different for everyone, but it’s very unlikely to be because of something a child’s parents did or didn’t do.

There are lots of reasons why a baby might be born with a cleft; it’s usually a mix of lots of different genetic and environmental factors coming together in a way that can’t be predicted or prevented.

It can happen in any pregnancy, even with no known family history. Whatever the causes, people born with a cleft and their families deserve the best possible support and reassurance as they go through their cleft journey.

Wednesday 12th May

❌ MYTH: ‘A cleft is fixed with one simple surgery’

✅ FACT: Some people born with a cleft will need over twenty operations as they grow into adults, and being born with a cleft is about much more than just surgery.

Babies born with a cleft lip and palate will need two or more operations to close the gaps in their lip and mouth. The first usually happens at just three months old.

Follow-up operations can help with speech, teeth growth, breathing, and more. Some adults who were born with a cleft have had 20+ operations on their mouth, nose and jaw.

Whether it’s the first operation or the 20th, families and adults still need information, support and reassurance to get through it. CLAPA works to provide exactly that to thousands of people in need every year. Your support can help us be there for everyone who needs us.

When talking about operations, we avoid terms like ‘fix’ because the operation itself is just one part of a longer treatment journey for most people. The gap in a lip or palate can be closed with surgery, but a cleft isn’t ‘fixed’ this way.

Thursday 13th May

❌ MYTH: ‘If you were born with a cleft, why don’t you have a scar?’

✅ FACT: Around 45% of babies born with a cleft will have an ‘isolated cleft palate’ – this is a gap on the roof of the mouth, NOT the lip. Just because you can’t see the scar doesn’t mean it’s not there!

It’s one of the most common mistakes we see at CLAPA – people saying ‘cleft palate’ when they mean ‘cleft lip’.

But a cleft palate isn’t something you can see from the outside – not without taking a good look in someone’s mouth!

The palate is important for lots of things including eating and speaking. It also helps with hearing, as the ears, nose and throat are all connected.

A cleft palate can have a lasting and profound impact, but because it’s not ‘visible’ from the outside, most people know very little about it.

Friday 14th May

❌ MYTH: “Your difference will define your life.”

✅ FACT: A difference like cleft lip and palate is part of someone’s life, not all of it!

At CLAPA, we believe being born with a cleft shouldn’t be any barrier to fulfilling your full potential in life. Our services help people find their cleft community, get the knowledge they need to feel confident about their future, and use their experiences to help others.

➡️ Can you help us make sure no one goes through their cleft journey alone in 2023? Donate to our ‘Step Up for Cleft Lip and Palate’ campaign today!

Saturday 15th May

Growing up with a cleft can mean you look and sound different to your peers and might have a lot of experiences others can’t relate to.

Being born with a cleft might make you different – but everyone is different!

At CLAPA, we believe the world should celebrate these differences.

This weekend wasn’t just special because of Cleft Lip and Palate Awareness Week; it was also our first Residential Weekend of the year!
In Milton Keynes, 19 young people born with a cleft enjoyed a weekend of outdoor games and confidence-building workshops while they built lifelong friendships with people who can understand exactly what they’re going through.
CLAPA gets no NHS or government funding; these free-of-charge weekends and all of our services are made possible thanks to YOUR support.


Sunday 16th May

After over 1,500 miles walked, run, cycled and danced by the cleft community over Awareness Week, the Step Up for Cleft Lip and Palate Challenge visited all the UK Cleft Centres and arrived back at CLAPA’s office!

142 fundraisers have raised £13,000 so far – and there’s still time to donate!

Thank you for helping to create a kinder world for everyone affected by cleft this Awareness Week

Help CLAPA Keep Going

The way the cleft community has come together to support us after such a difficult few years has been nothing short of inspiring. But to make sure we’re there for everyone who needs us in the next year, we need to raise £25,000 each month in one-off donations and sponsorship. Can you help us make sure no one ever has to go through their cleft journey alone?

CLAPA exists because people like you are willing to step up and help us make sure no one affected by cleft in the UK ever has to go through their journey alone. If you believe in this vision as much as we do, please continue to do everything you can to keep CLAPA going in 2023 and beyond.

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