Maria Carmen soon found that children did very well during the school year, but would digress in their progress during the summer months away from school. She was sure that if she had the chance to conduct intensive speech camp with the children, even over the course of one week, the children would be able to achieve their goals faster.
So Maria Carmen decided to try an intensive speech camp for some of her clients. She held the first three years of speech camps in her own home on a shoestring budget, but in 2002, Smile Train found Maria Carmen and we have been funding her speech camp to help children with clefts ever since.
Over the past thirteen years the program has grown and flourished. When Maria Carmen saw that cleft patients of all ages were in need of this immersive program, she decided to drop the age requirement and now she sees three times the amount of campers.
Maria Carmen has also added workshops for parents to practice speech techniques with their children at home. To help foster at home speech development, Maria Carmen has worked to create a speech app for tablets and smartphones for cleft patients to reaffirm their learning. Her program has also incorporated a psychologist to help address the emotional needs of the campers. Maria Carmen said, “I’ve learned a lot from these camps.
Each one has brought new insights about children, development, families, language, speech, strategies, therapy, and also about speech pathologist's development.
I am very grateful for all the learning opportunities I have had by being a partner of Smile Train. I've changed methodologies, strategies, concepts, and visions. I am not sure I could have implemented or innovated some of my ideas without Smile Train’s support.”