Lippy the Lion 

School FAQ 

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:

Q:  What is a cleft lip and palate?  

Lippy:  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. 


Q:  Does a cleft hurt?

Lippy:  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.


Q:  What made the cleft happen?

Lippy:  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.


Q.    Why do you have a scar on your lip?

Lippy:  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.


Q.    What is the worst part of having a cleft?

Lippy:  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.


Q.    What is the best part of having a cleft?

Lippy:  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 cleft.  I 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 difference.


Q.    How can we help someone who has a cleft?

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 .