TVCC is a strong ally of the facial difference community, providing a full spectrum of services to children, youth and families in Southwestern Ontario.
Speech-language pathologist Anne Dworschak-Stokan and social worker Jessica Berezoski, members of TVCC’s Cleft Lip and Palate/Craniofacial team, talked to AboutFace about their work with children with facial differences and what face equality means to them as service providers.
“We often get to know the child from his or her birth all the way up to young adulthood – or even before birth if the craniofacial condition is diagnosed during pregnancy – and that makes our work really gratifying.
Each child and family is unique and requires different levels of support. Along with our team, which provides dental, medical and psychosocial services ranging from surgery, orthodontic treatment to speech-language therapy to counselling; we collaborate with the child’s circle of care and other organizations like AboutFace to help our kids get access to key supports that will make a real difference for them.
The key is education – both to educate the child and caregivers on self-care and self-advocacy, and to educate the wider community on facial differences. One of our clients in elementary school was struggling with exclusion and bullying from her classmates. Her mother encouraged her to do a presentation on cleft lip and palate to her class; it made a big positive impact. She now proudly embraces her beauty.
Face equality will be achieved when we all understand that differences should be normalized and celebrated.”