When we set out to Orlando for the 12th International Congress on Cleft Lip/Palate and Related Craniofacial Anomalies earlier this year, we expected that there would be memories made and friendships forged. Our partners really enjoyed getting to know each other and getting to know others within the cleft field.

From August 5 to 8, two members from our Indian team visited Monterrey, Mexico  to see a new friend and see first-hand how a summer speech therapy camp was being held. While the Mexican speech camp, led by Maria Pamplona, is not a TF- funded project, we felt it was important to facilitate this meeting so that both teams could enhance their knowledge.

Subramaniyan (Suraj) Balasubramanian works within the Department of Speech Language & Hearing Sciences at Sri Ramachandra University and directs the community based rehabilitation (CBR) project in a rural district of Southern India.

He notes: “Overall the experience was very fruitful.”

He also adds: “Language based activities like Rhymes, Stories and Situation Themes, made the activities very interesting and children were able to concentrate in the activity for more than an hour… during the break time, all the children were reciting the rhymes. This actually helped them to practice the sounds. At the end of four days, many children were able to articulate the sounds in the rhymes correctly.”

He can see this model working where CBR services are limited.

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Children and parents at the camp along with Suraj and Savitha and Maria Pamplona; Children take part in activities. 

Savitha, his colleague, noted: “Songs and stories are excellent tools that can be used during therapy for children with cleft lip and palate. They are more effective than articulation drills in sustaining attention of the children.”

A typical day at the camp: 

  1. Setting the stage
  2. Story time: Level of language task varies depending on the group
  3. Story recall time: Colouring activity is used following which children are provided with individual practise opportunities
  4. Recess/Break time
  5. Rhymes time
  6. Activity time

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One of the activities is a shopping station; Suraj works the popcorn booth

TF emphasizes South-South training opportunities – where teams from developing countries visit each other – because these training opportunities are often more relevant to our teams.

To learn more about our partnership in India, click here.

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A book used during the speech camp; Speech camp participants