Lippy the Lion is a good-will ambassador for cleft lip and palate. Like the many children he visits all over the world, Lippy was born with what is called a cleft lip and palate. While he visits, he often goes to the childís school to let other children know about cleft, and how itís not such a scary thing after all. Here are some of the questions Lippy often answers when he visits a school:
Well, a ďcleftĒ means a ďholeĒ or an opening.
When I was born, there was an opening in my lip that went from my mouth,
up to my nose. The roof of my mouth
had a hole too. It looked like it
was cracked in half from the front to the back.
Thatís a cleft. Even
though it looks broken, itís really not. It just didnít grow together when
most lips and palates grow together.
Nope. A cleft feels normal
to a person with a cleft. Operations hurt, but they have some good medicine that makes
the hurt go away, and after a few days it doesnít hurt any more.
Now thatís a hard question, cause a lot of times, we donít know what
made the cleft happen.
We do know that it was not anybodyís fault.
Something just happened while I was growing in Mommy Lionís tummy that
made that part of my lip not reach the middle to grow together, so it stayed
apart and made a cleft.
Well, you know that I had to have an operation to help my lip get closed
and look more like yours.
An operation is a big cut that the doctor makes so that he can fix
something. Well, any time you get a big cut, you end up with a scar.
Thatís how I got my scar Ė from the operation the doctor did to help
my lip grow together.
The worst part is when other people donít understand or want to do or
say mean things.
I donít like when other lion kids say things that hurt my feelings, and
sometimes they make fun of my scar or my voice.
That makes me very sad.
I hope that YOU understand that being born with a cleft does not make me
a bad person (or lion.)
Iím just like you, but I had to have some operations.
That doesnít really make me all that different.
For me, the best part is that I get to travel all over the world to meet
great kids like my host here.
I also get to meet kids like you, and I get to tell people about having a
also think my cleft made me a stronger lion in a lot of ways.
I understand when people have to deal with differences.
There are a lot of differences besides a cleft, you know.
And everybody has feelings.
I think I understand their feelings better cause I have a cleft.
You know what, though?
You donít have to have a cleft to be a good friend to someone who has a
Lippy: First of all, just be a good friend. A person with a cleft is not any different from anyone else, except that they need operations sometimes. If your friend has an operation during the school year, let him or her know that you will help them out if they need help. For instance ÖÖ when they have an operation, they have to eat things like milkshakes and smoothies. Let them know that you are perfectly willing to go to their house and help them eat some of those milkshakes for them!
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Revised: June 15, 2003 .