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Beatboxing fun with children in the cleft service

Posted on Tuesday 6th March 2018
South Thames Cleft Service activity day

Children, staff and volunteers take part in an activity day at the South Thames Cleft Service.

Young patients at the South Thames Cleft Service tried their hand at beatboxing, art and yoga during an annual activity day.

For children living with medical conditions, meeting others like themselves can help improve self-esteem and provide an opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences. Many services at Evelina London hold activity days and meet-ups to give patients, past and present, the chance to connect with others just like them.

The South Thames Cleft Service hold the event for children with a cleft lip and/or palate. A cleft is a gap or split in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate) or sometimes both. While most children with a cleft lip and/or palate will have surgery to correct the cleft, they can be left with scars and sometimes speech difficulties. Patients and their families are given support throughout treatment, but the activity day provide an opportunity for patients to meet other children just like them, learn new skills and improve their self-esteem.

The day started with a beatboxing class run by UK Beatbox champion Grace Savage. As some children and young people with a cleft lip and palate may experience difficulties with their speech sound production, trying beatboxing techniques was a fun way for the children to learn how to use their mouths in a different way. The children learned to make new sounds and create beatbox rhythms before performing in groups.

Grace said: “I’ve never done beatboxing with children with a cleft lip and palate before so it was really interesting to see how speech therapy and beatboxing can go hand in hand to help children improve their speech abilities. A lot of beatboxing is about getting over your inhibitions and being confident and the kids were incredible at getting involved and giving it a go. Their performances at the end of the session were great!”

Jacob Jarvis, aged nine from Sussex, said: “I’ve never seen anyone with a cleft lip beatbox before so it was really fun to learn how to do it.”

The children also took part in an art workshop run by Illustrator Joanna Layla, which explored body image, and encouraged having confidence in the skills your body can achieve.

Joanna said: “Sometimes we focus so much on the things we don’t like about ourselves we forget all the brilliant things we can do. I asked the children to think about something amazing that they do with their bodies. Then we drew art on kites to represent that before heading to the park to fly them. The children were so creative, one girl had climbed Mount Snowden with her family so she drew a foot covered in icicles which looked fantastic.”

Eleanor Hames, aged 10 from Surrey, said: “Making the kites was really fun. I loved showing something that’s important to me, and that I’m proud of.”

Zoe Jordan, lead speech and language therapist and Jen Rundle, clinical psychologist from the South Thames Cleft Service, organised the day. Zoe said: “We had a great time with our workshop leaders. Children with a cleft lip and palate can sometimes have low self-esteem so it was really good to see them grow in confidence as they realised all the amazing things they could do with their mouths and how we all have something we can celebrate about ourselves. We’ll definitely be running the fun day again next year.”

Learn more about the South Thames Cleft Service.