Spreading the “Wonder” Message: Choose Kind


PHOENIX, Ariz. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The movie and book “Wonder” follow Augie, a ten-year-old boy with facial deformities as he goes to school for the first time and meets new people. Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix launched a “Wonder” outreach program that puts teenagers with conditions like Augie’s in classrooms. Students learn and ask questions about craniofacial disorders from people who live with them. The program is spreading the movie’s message of “choose kind” to hundreds of children.

In “Wonder,” Augie is subjected to bullying, stares, and finally, acceptance as other kids see beyond his deformities.

Barrow “Wonder” Program Volunteer, Sarah Woolworth, shared, “Some days, I feel like I don’t hear as well as I do other days … and then some days I just don’t want to.”

Sarah Woolworth and Isaiah Acosta both have craniofacial differences. They share stories about multiple surgeries and dealing with bullies because of how they look. And they take questions.

Sarah continued, “After, I feel like they learned something, and they’re like, “wow, I’ll definitely work on being kinder, I learned something. I can see a change in their eyes.”

Jeffrey Takeuchi has seen the program three times, and still learns new things.

“I think it’ll make a big difference, but it might take just a little bit more,” explained Jeffrey.

Co-medical director at the Barrow Cleft and Craniofacial Center, Patricia Beals, DMD, loves watching the humanity develop in kids who meet Sarah and Isaiah.

“I’ve seen them move beyond, “This is a patient with a medical condition” to, “This is a peer who likes jazz or is a good painter,” Dr. Beals said.

Sarah says she learns things from the program, too. She hopes it goes nationwide, because:

“It’s fascinating! It’s amazing,” smiled Sarah.

And she wants more people to embrace “Wonder’s” message of, “choose kind.”

So far, Barrow’s Wonder program has reached about 15-hundred children. Dr. Beals and her husband, Dr. Stephen Beals, run the center, which is one of only a few that offer full-service treatment for patients. Besides surgery and specialized orthodontics, patients can get speech and hearing therapy and psychological help. They treat children and adults, and even expecting parents.

Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Bob Walko, Editor; and Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer.

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REPORT #2588

BACKGROUND: A craniofacial disorder refers to an abnormality of the face and/or head. Craniofacial differences can result from abnormal growth patterns of the face or skull, which involves soft tissue and bones. A craniofacial condition may include disfigurement brought about by birth defect, disease or trauma. In the United States, approximately 600,000 individuals have been diagnosed with a craniofacial condition, and hundreds of patients are treated with these disorders each year. Among the conditions seen most frequently are: cleft palate/cleft lip, an abnormality in which the lip or mouth’s palette doesn’t close properly before birth and has to be fixed surgically; misshapen heads; syndrome disorders, a disease or disorder that has more than one identifying feature or symptom. There are a number of syndromes specifically affecting head/facial disorders, including Crouzen, Apert, Pfeiffer, Saethre-Chotzen, Carpenter, and Cloverleaf syndromes; trauma, the face or skull also can be damaged through accident and injury.

(Source: https://ccakids.org/syndromes.html and https://childrensnational.org/choose-childrens/conditions-and-treatments/genetic-disorders-and-birth-defects/craniofacial-disorder)

CAUSES OF CRANIOFACIAL DISORDERS:  Most medical professionals agree that there is no single factor that causes these types of abnormalities. Instead, there are many factors that may contribute to their development. A child may receive a particular combination of gene(s) from one or both parents, or there may be a change in the genes at the time of conception, which results in a craniofacial anomaly. The effect of environmental exposures on the development of craniofacial abnormalities is not fully understood. However, environmental exposures may play a role, especially in combination with genetic abnormalities. Folic acid is a B vitamin found in orange juice, fortified breakfast cereals, enriched grain products, and green, leafy vegetables. Studies have shown that women who do not take sufficient folic acid during pregnancy, or have a diet lacking in folic acid, may have a higher risk of having a baby with certain congenital anomalies, including cleft lip and/or cleft palate.

(Source: https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=overview-of-craniofacial-anomalies-90-P01830)

NEW ANSWERS IN RESEARCH: Four genes have been identified which work together to cause cleft lip and palate in an international research collaboration with researchers from UNSW Sydney and the University of Washington. The genes, associated for the first time with cleft lip and palate, encode proteins that work together in a network, providing important insights into the biological basis of one of the most common physical malformations. The project was led by Associate Professor, Tony Roscioli, from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), UNSW Sydney and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick; and Professor Timothy Cox, from Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington School of Medicine in the USA. Using next-generation sequencing, the research team identified variants in four new genes, each representing a primary cause of non-syndromic cleft lip and palate. These genes are known to encode proteins that work together in a network, providing important insight into the biological basis of the cleft lip and palate. Variants in these genes were found to account for 15 percent of the families who took part in the study and in nearly 3 percent of a second, larger group of smaller families and isolated cases.

(Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-06-breakthrough-cleft-lip-palate.html)

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Sara Baird


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