Pacific Univ. offers free therapy for kids with cleft lip, palate

Pacific University helps kids with cleft lips

FOREST GROVE, Ore. -- Children who can't eat or talk correctly because of a cleft lip or palate are getting some much needed free help at Pacific University.

"Many of the kids have corrective surgery but still need follow up therapy for several years," explained Assistant Professor of Speech Pathology Kerry Mandulak.

The summer clinicians are students in the Pacific masters program.

"It's hands on real life learning," said a student named Rachel as she taught 18-month-old Maddie Brown to eat peanut butter.

Maddie and her older sister were born with cleft palate which is a hole in the roof of the mouth.

"They've improved so much since coming here," commented their Mom, Julia. "Maddie is learning to move food around her mouth and Annie is talking much more clearly so she's not as shy."

It takes a partnership that reaches well beyond Pacific University in Forest Grove.

The school provides professors, students and space.

Smile Oregon donates hundreds of dollars in scholarship money for the families and OHSU sends doctors to campus to share their expertise.

"It's a unique class combined with a clinic," explained Assistant Professor Caitlin McDonnell. "It's just so wonderful to see the kids develop relationships with the students and for parents to know they're not alone in this long journey."

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