MEDIA ADVISORY / ONSITE COVERAGE REQUEST –TUESDAY, JULY 30: Dusk
Media Contacts: David Perry (415) 676-7007 / email@example.com
Erin Saberi (916) 952-5080 / firstname.lastname@example.org
MEDIA ADVISORY / ONSITE COVERAGE REQUEST –TUESDAY, JULY 30: Dusk
WHAT: San Francisco City Hall lit “Hot Pink” / “Purple” to mark Cleft Awareness Month and SF’s Alliance for Smiles Celebrates 15thAnniversary Year of “Repairing Children’s Smiles” Around the World
Missions this year will establish and further cleft palate centers in China, Egypt, Guatemala, Honduras, Myamar and The Philippines to Guatemala, Honduras and Egypt
WHEN: Tuesday, July 30: dusk / sunset through the evening
WHERE: The San Francisco City Hall Dome
WHY / DETAIL:
On July 30, in recognition of Alliance for Smiles’ 15th Anniversary and Cleft Awareness Month, San Francisco City Hall will be lit “hot pink / purple” – the color of Cleft Awareness Ribbons. As we come to the end of July — National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month — Alliance for Smiles (www.allianceforsmiles.org), the San Francisco-based global organization providing sustainable cleft-palate treatment and support worldwide, is pleased to announce the expansion of its global missions to include Central America, Africa and a return to the Philippines, with a first time mission to Manila. AFS has worked for 15 years in 15 countries and is now pleased to be increasing its presence and support for children with new missions to Guatemala, Honduras and Egypt. Alliance For Smiles is bringing its sustainable treatment model that builds capacity for continued life changing treatment to Retalhuleu, Guatemala on September 13th, to Aswan, Egypt on November 3rd and to Honduras in the spring, 2020. Additionally, areturn mission is planned to the Philippines after a ten-year hiatus, with a first-time mission to Manila, September 29th.
“We are delighted to be announcing this life-changing expansion at the culmination of National Cleft Palate Awareness Month,” said Alison Healy, Executive Director of Alliance For Smiles. “Our unique model of cleft palate care works with teams in country to develop a sustainable model of care in country that supports ongoing life-changing care for thousands of children.”
A cleft lip occurs when the lip does not quite close during the child’sdevelopment before birth and needs to be surgically closed. A cleft palateoccurs during the same period when there is an opening or cleft in the roof of the mouth. It is estimated that, worldwide, a child is born every three minutes with a cleft — about one in 500-750 births. While such anomalies all need to be corrected by surgery, in first world countries such options are readily available and affordable. However, in developing countries, this is often not the case. Alliance for Smiles exists to fill this need.
“Our mission is repairing children’s smiles,” said Alison Healy, Executive Director for Alliance for Smiles. “It is impossible not be to touched, moved and renewed in spirit by the smiles of the young people we heal. What we celebrate this year is their success. What we are committed to for the next 15 years and beyond, is expanding our work, and educating the public about the long road faced by our patients. We’ve all seen the ads supporting groups that perform this incredible work. However, sometimes such compelling images can be deceiving, in the appearance of a fully healed child. Most of the young people with whom we work will require multiple surgeries and treatments and also socialization over many years. Sadly, in some of the countries most in need of our efforts, being born with a cleft lip or palate not only means pain and difficulty, but it can also mean ostracization and sometimes, even death.”
In October 2004, Alliance for Smiles was founded by five members of the Rotary Club of San Francisco: Past Presidents, John Uth,Anita Stangl, Jim Patrick, and Jim Deitz and long-time Club Member John Goings. The ongoing support of the Rotary International Community is still key to the success of Alliance for Smiles. Alliance For Smiles in partnership with international medical organizations and hospitals has set up seven multidisciplinary international cleft treatment centers in under-served countries around the world.
“Traditional international efforts to repair cleft lips and palates have consisted of small teams that perform surgical procedures to correct defects,” Healy says. “However, the initial surgery only addresses one part of the problem. Cleft patients require ongoing treatment in the disciplines of dentistry, orthodontia, speech therapy and sometimes psychological counseling.”
According to Healy, time and funding constraints in target countries typically make it next to impossible to address those needs.
“Even if information, expertise and treatment were available, it would pose afinancial burden on the families of our target population,” Healy summed up.“The budgets of these families are already strained by their basic daily needs for food and shelter.”
To respond to the immediate need, Alliance for Smiles conducts two-week surgical missions. They also provide advanced training for local health care providers who are dedicated to the treatment of under-served cleft lip and palate patients. Additionally, Alliance for Smiles has established permanent treatment centers where patients can receive follow-up and ongoing care, utilizing the same treatment protocols used in the United States.
In addition to organizing and sending two-week medical missions of surgical teams comprised of approximately 15 medical volunteers, supported by approximately 5 non-medical volunteers to a country, AFS also works side-by-side with local medical practitioners to exchange ideas on proper medical techniques and procedures, as well as to provide follow-up care. Additionally, the organization also works to build sustainability in country, through the establishment and maintenance of Medical Treatment Centers that provide follow-up and continuing care to children who receive surgery. Alliance For Smiles has served almost 7,000 children worldwide. AFS provides care to all patients, regardless of sex, age, economic status, educational background, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or marital status.
In addition to organizing and sending two-week medical missions of surgical teams comprised of approximately 15 medical volunteers, supported by approximately 5 non-medical volunteers to a country, AFS also works side-by-side with local medical practitioners to train partners in long term and comprehensive cleft care as well as to provide follow-up care. Additionally, the organization also works to build sustainability in country, through the establishment and maintenance of Medical Treatment Centers that provide follow-up and continuing care to children who receive surgery. Alliance For Smiles has served almost 7,000 children worldwide. AFS provides care to all patients, regardless of sex, age, economic status, educational background, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or marital status.
Upcoming Medical Missions
• September 13 — 21, 2019 – Retalhuleu, Guatemala Medical Mission
• September 28– October 13, 2019 – Manila, Philippines Mission
• October 12– 26, 2019 – Yangon, Myanmar Medical Mission
• November 2 — 16, 2019 – Wenzhou China, Teaching Mission
• November 3 — 17, 2019 – Aswan, Egypt Medical Mission
Learn more at: www.allianceforsmiles.org