Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Non-profit Smile Oregon to hold its 7th annual walk at Gabriel Park in S.W. Portland July 15th

-By Emily Anderson

While people have said that a picture is worth a thousand words, a smile can go a mile in brightening someone's day. By simply taking a walk this weekend, you can learn what a community of parents and children facing certain dental challenges looks like who have teamed up with an Oregon non profit for guidance.

Smile Oregon, an Oregon non-profit founded in 2009 which helps Oregonians with cleft and craniofacial abnormalities obtain educational awareness, is holding its 7th annual community walk at Gabriel Park near Multnomah Village this Saturday, July 15th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration is free. People can register online at and registration is preferred in advance as a picnic lunch will be provided (Smile Oregon needs to know how much food to have on hand). A suggested donation of $25 is encouraged at the walk.

Blaze, the Portland Trailblazers mascot, is expected to be there to entertain kids. There will be a kids music group to provide entertainment.

"The walk is a one mile walk which is a paved loop around Gabriel Park," Haleah Blank, a board member, described. "It’s a really nice family-oriented event. It’s a great way for kids to see what it looks like to give back. [Giving back] doesn’t need to be opening your wallet. It could just [be] simply showing up."

This is a community awareness event in which several board members of Smile Oregon will be present to meet community members who wish to learn more about its mission. Haleah Blank says that often times expecting mothers find out at the 18 to 20 week stage of pregnancy that their child has a cleft or craniofacial condition. Based upon the health insurance coverage each parent has, a cleft team could be assigned to work with the parents. Surgeries for cleft and other craniofacial conditions can begin as early in a baby's life at three months of age.

What is cleft lip? And cleft palate? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the lip of an unborn child forms between the fourth and seventh week of pregnancy. A cleft lip is when "the opening in the lip can be a small slit or it can be a large opening that goes through the lip into the nose. A cleft lip can be on one or both sides of the lip or in the middle of the lip. Children with a cleft lip can also have a cleft palate."

The C.D.C.P  says the cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth when the tissue doesn't fuse together completely and that the palate is formed during the sixth and 9th week of pregnancy.

Smile Oregon assists people of all ages who have been affected; though usually since expecting parents discover these issues during pregnancy, help most often occurs with babies or young children. Smile Oregon does offer a $1,000 scholarship which it gives out annually to high school students with craniofacial issues who are planning to go to college. More details for this can be found at Oregon's student aid website:

Smile Oregon hopes to be able to continue to bridge the education gap between families and health care resources in the years to come. And by attending their walk this Saturday, you can meet other like-minded people who are experiencing cleft or craniofacial issues in their families or if you just want to learn more.

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